By Michael Bowman
Less than 48 hours before Americans go to the polls, Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, are crisscrossing the United States in a final push for votes.
With public opinion polls showing an evenly-divided nation, both campaigns say they are confident of victory Tuesday.
His voice hoarse from days of non-stop campaigning, President Obama is asking voters to stand with him on Election Day. “We have come too far to turn back now. We have come too far to let our hearts grow faint. It is time to keep pushing forward,” he said.
Obama insists, after four years as president, he still represents true change in Washington. “You know that I know what real change looks like. Because I have fought for it alongside you. I have got the scars to prove it. I have got the grey hair to show for it,” he said.
“I need Iowa so we can win the White House and take back America,” said Republican Mitt Romney. He says the United States needs a change from failed Obama policies. “He [President Obama] said unemployment would now be 5.4 percent. We just learned on Friday that it is 7.9 percent. The question of this election comes down to this: do you want four more years like the last four years, or do you want real change?”
At the end of a long and often bitter campaign, the candidates are pledging to bridge partisan divides to solve the nation’s problems.
“As long as I am president, I will work with anybody of any party to move this country forward,” said Obama.
“When I am elected, I am going to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress,” Romney told a cheering crowd.
And, they are bringing some well-known voices to the campaign trail. Former President Bill Clinton is making appearances on Obama’s behalf.
“Are we moving in the right direction? I am for President Obama, because he has been a good commander-in-chief and he has done a good job,” he said.
Romney’s wife, Ann, joined him at an Ohio campaign stop, and had this to say about her husband. “I can tell you one thing about this guy. He will always stand by my side, and he will always do what is right for America,” she said.
Both campaigns are focused on fewer than 10 swing states like Ohio and Florida that will likely determine the outcome of the election. Republicans are seen as more energized, while Democrats boast of a more-extensive voter outreach network.
Public opinion polls show a fairly-evenly divided electorate nationally, but small leads for Obama in most battleground states. Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie is predicting victory.
“We feel very confident in terms of where we are in the target states. We have been able to expand [the campaign focus] into Pennsylvania while fully-funding and staying current with everything we need to be doing in Florida and Virginia and Ohio and all the other target states,” he said.
Obama campaign adviser David Plouffe has a similar message. “I am confident two days from now the president will be re-elected. We have the support to win this election. We have to make sure it materializes in votes, and that is the challenge for us over the next two days,” he said.
Tuesday’s vote comes one week after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the U.S. East Coast. The storm’s effect on voting remains to be seen. With voter turn-out viewed as the key to victory, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will continue a frantic campaign schedule from now until election eve.