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Obama, Romney make a mad dash in a final bid for votes

  • Written by CNN
  • Published in News

finalpush-1President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are spending the final hours of the campaign making a mad dash through battleground states Monday in a late push to sway a closely divided electorate ahead of Tuesday's election.

In a final 24 hours, Obama and Romney – or their campaign surrogates, including their wives and the vice presidential candidates – are scheduled to make stops in Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

The push comes as national polls show the race is tied.

A new CNN poll showed 49 percent support for Obama and 49 percent for Romney.

finalpush-2A Politico/George Washington University survey has it tied at 48 percent; an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates Obama at 48 percent and Romney at 47 percent; and the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll puts Obama at 49 percent and Romney at 48 percent.

The national polling numbers are slightly different in the battleground states, where Obama holds a small edge in more states than Romney. Though polling slightly ahead, most of Obama's swing state leads are within the polls' margin of error.

Romney kicked off his final day of campaigning with an event in Sanford, Florida. Striking a big-picture tone, he spent a great deal of time outlining what he would do from the Oval Office.

"Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow," he told the excited crowd. "We can begin a better tomorrow, tomorrow. And with the help of the people in Florida, that's exactly what's going to happen."

According to a campaign senior adviser, Romney's message on this last day will be focused on "those last few undecideds."

Obama started Monday with a late morning event in Madison, Wisconsin, where he held a rally with rocker Bruce Springsteen.

Early Monday, Obama wrapped up a campaign stop at a community college in Aurora, Colo., where he addressed the death and devastation left by Superstorm Sandy.

"Unfortunately, the people of this town understand what it means to grieve better than most," Obama said, recalling the July mass shooting at a movie theater there that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

"Just as you have begun to heal as a community, we are going to help our friends on the East Coast heal. We are going to walk with them every step of the way. No matter how bad a storm is, we come back. No matter how tough times are, we will thrive."

His voice raspy from weekend campaigning, Obama painted Tuesday's vote as a choice between policies that have moved the country out of the depths of recession and ones that got it into one in the first place.

Romney used his campaign stops Sunday to hammer at Obama's record, particularly on the economy, saying it didn't warrant returning him to Washington.

"Throughout this campaign, using everything he can think of, President Obama has tried to convince you his last four years have been a success," Romney said at a rally in Cleveland. "So his plan for the next four years is to take all the ideas from his first term – the borrowing, Obamacare and all the rest – and do them all over again. He calls his plan 'forward.' I call it forewarned."

After the rally in Madison, Obama was then scheduled to fly to Columbus, Ohio, where he would be joined by Springsteen and rapper Jay-Z.

The president will round out his day with a final campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, before heading to Chicago, where he'll spend Election Day.

After his Florida event, Romney's stops were to include Lynchburg, Richmond and Fairfax, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; and a finish in Manchester, New Hampshire, where Kid Rock is set to perform, before making the short trip to Boston, where he'll spend Election Day.

Romney's running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, is scheduled to hit Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and Ohio before flying home to Wisconsin, while Vice President Joe Biden will campaign throughout Virginia.

On the campaign surrogate front, former President Bill Clinton campaignrf on behalf of Obama in Pennsylvania, where Romney made a stop Sunday and his running mate campaigned Saturday.

Most published polls show Pennsylvania leaning Democratic. But Romney adviser Kevin Madden told reporters on the campaign plane Sunday that Obama is "under-performing" in Pennsylvania, "and it's presented us an opportunity."

"We have a really strong volunteer infrastructure that we think could make a difference," Madden said.

"And that's why we're traveling there with two days to go, and we have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks concentrating on expanding the map."

While the Obama campaign has discounted Romney's chances of reclaiming Pennsylvania, which hasn't gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, it appeared to not be taking any chances and was dispatching Clinton to counter possible GOP gains there.

First Lady Michelle Obama was scheduled to attend rallies in Charlotte, North Carolina, and later in Orlando, Fla., before flying to Iowa to join her husband in their final campaign appearance.

(CNN's Dan Merica, Chelsea J. Carter, Dan Lothian, Shawna Shepherd and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.)

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