Politics • Candidates rallying to the very end, touring swing states as Election Day looms.
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Manchester, N.H. • Sensing the possibility and yearning to close the deal after years of seeking the White House, Mitt Romney offered his final pitch to voters on the eve of the election against President Barack Obama: "Real change from Day One."
"Four years ago, change was promised by the president but change is not measured in speeches, it's measured in achievements," Romney charged Monday in New Hampshire, a swing state where he launched his bid and where he hopes to win on Tuesday on his way to the presidency. "Almost every measure [Obama] took, hurt our economy and it hurt Americans."
Hundreds of millions of dollars spent, countless rallies held and an unending barrage of television commercials, mailers and telephone calls have gone out nationwide, all leading to this moment.
It's the voters' turn now.
In the final, frenzied 48 hours before polls close, both Romney and Obama barnstormed critical swing states, with the Republican candidate arguing in a final rally in Manchester that America needs him and he needs voters to turn out.
Offering himself as the real change-agent the one that can fulfill all the promises Obama didn't Romney, stoked with newfound excitement, told supporters "tomorrow would bring a new tomorrow."
"You hope that President Obama would live up to his promise to pull people together," Romney said. "He hasn't. I will."
Obama, too, made a last push in Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio in hopes of defending a small but pivotal lead that could earn him a second term.
"We've made progress these last four years," Obama told voters in Madison, Wisc. "But the reason we're all gathered here ... is because we know we've got more work to do. We've got more work to do. As long as there's a single American who wants a job but can't find one, our work is not yet done."
The president whose approval rating has suffered from an economy still limping along discounted Romney's idea of change, with Obama noting the mess he walked into.
"Governor Romney is a very talented salesman," Obama said. "And in this campaign, he's tried as hard as he can to repackage the same old bad ideas and make them out to be new ideas and try to convince you that he's all about change. He's trying to convince you that these bad, old ideas are change."
Polls on Monday showed Obama with an advantage in seven of the nine states considered key, with only Florida and Virginia leaning slightly Romney's way. If Romney can't take Ohio, he would need to run the table on most of the other swing states to nab the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
Romney's folks, though, charge the polls are skewed and their candidate will pull a higher turnout.
That's the hope of Kelly Grimes of Dover, N.H., who was holding a sign inspired by Kid Rock, the performer at the Manchester event, "Sweet Home, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
"I want someone to run this country who has actually run a business," said Grimes, who brought her 13-year-old daughter, Carolyn, to the rally. "I want a businessperson; is that so wrong?"
An hour south, Romney's hopeful victory stage awaits.
The campaign has rented out the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and decked out the grand ballroom with Romney-Ryan signs and American flags. The slogan, "Believe In America," floats in lights above the podium where Romney is hoping to give his winning address.
Five years earlier, Romney held his first major event in the hunt for the White House at the same convention center where he invited campaign donors for a telethon-style fundraiser.
That 2008 bid didn't work out, but he returns Tuesday night after spending north of $340 million against Obama's $540 million and that's aside from the estimated $1 billion outside groups tossed out to influence the race.
It's been a long road for Romney who had to fight off a throng of competitors for the GOP nomination and then rally a split base to support him. Crowds in recent weeks, though, have given Romney more confidence.
Republican sources released internal polls late Monday with Romney a point or two up in Ohio, New Hampshire and Iowa, a move intended to draw enthusiasm from supporters.
The Romney camp also noted last-minute that it would visit Pittsburgh, Pa., and Cleveland on Election Day to gin up votes.
On the other side, Vice President Joe Biden told reporters earlier Monday that the campaign was likely to take Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nevada enough states to bring Obama over the top when paired with solid-blue states.
"I'm feeling good. I really am," Biden said. "But you know, as that old expression goes, it's all over but the shouting. It feels good though."