Romney's Last Appeal To Voters Before Election Day

Mitt Romney is making his final appearance in the states where he needs to slip past President Obama in Tuesday's election. Over the weekend, Romney traveled more than 5,000 miles and held eight rallies in seven states.

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This is the final day that President Obama and Mitt Romney will climb on stages in swing states and shout about each other. It's the last day both men will describe their visions for where America should go in the next four years, the last day that both will hold to strictly crafted messages, disciplined both in what they say and what they don't. Both are getting hoarse. Both are drawing bigger crowds than they've had all year.

And we'll hear now from both campaigns, beginning with NPR's Ari Shapiro traveling with Mitt Romney.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Mitt Romney traveled more than 5,000 miles this weekend. He went as far north as New Hampshire, as far south as Florida, and as far West as Colorado. He held eight rallies in seven states. That is an unheard-of pace for Romney.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH MONTAGE)

MITT ROMNEY: That's quite a Des Moines, Iowa. Thank you.

Boy, I'll tell you, Cleveland really does rock. You know that?

What a Philadelphia welcome. Thank you so much.

Virginia is the best.

SHAPIRO: Romney's visited some of these states dozens of times. And in many cases, this is the last time he'll be here as a candidate. At some stops, he appeared emotional.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: We're only two days away from a very different path, from a fresh start. Two days away from a new beginning.

SHAPIRO: That line in Des Moines came with a wistful look and no smile. In every place where Romney campaigned yesterday, President Obama is leading or tied in the polls. To win, Romney needs his supporters to turn those states around. He's has been running for president more or less for the last six years, and at age 65, this is likely his last shot at the presidency. He promises supporters at every stop that he will win.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: Because I'm not just going to take office on January 20th, I'm going to take responsibility for the office, as well.

SHAPIRO: Even in this final stretch, the Romney campaign is trying some new things. No more extemporaneous speaking. This weekend, he read off a teleprompter every time. Yesterday, he talked about the downside of welfare, a theme he hasn't touched for months.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: Paul and I have not promised you a bigger check from the government. And we haven't promised to take from some people to redistribute to you. We have - we've instead promised to rebuild the economy and to tame the growth of government and restore the principles that made America the greatest nation in the history of the Earth.

SHAPIRO: Another new tack: Yesterday, political director Rich Beeson did his first-ever national TV interview of the campaign. He predicted a blowout victory in the face of skepticism from Chris Wallace of Fox News.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

RICH BEESON: I'm saying that Pennsylvania and Michigan and Minnesota are not past the 270, as Mr. Axelrod would like to report. Those are past the 300. This is going to be a big election, and Governor Romney is going to win it.

CHRIS WALLACE: You're predicting over 300 electoral votes?

BEESON: It is going to be a big win for Governor Romney.

SHAPIRO: Another change in these final days, Romney visited Pennsylvania, a state where he hasn't been for more than a month. The last time a Republican won Pennsylvania was more than 20 years ago.

On the plane, campaign advisor Kevin Madden said Romney is expanding the map.

KEVIN MADDEN: This is actually the perfect time to go there, because you're 48 hours out from people making a good decision, given that they don't have early voting there.

SHAPIRO: More than 20,000 people came to a farm outside of Philadelphia in the freezing cold. They cheered Romney's promise to govern as a bipartisan president.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: Now, when I'm elected, I'm going to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress. I'm going to meet regularly with their leaders.

SHAPIRO: Romney also talks routinely about his day one agenda, which includes a promise to repeal Obamacare.

Advisor Kevin Madden was asked how Romney plans to dismantle the Obama legacy without alienating Democrats.

MADDEN: You know, look, this is why we have elections, is essentially we look to voters to offer a judgment on which vision they think is the right vision for the country.

SHAPIRO: Romney's last event of the night was in the military community of Newport News, Virginia. Instead of the next president, the announcer introduced him as the next commander-in-chief.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

ROMNEY: This Tuesday's a moment to look into the future and imagine what we can do, to put the past four years behind us and to start building a new future.

SHAPIRO: Inside the campaign bubble, the atmosphere is a bit like the end of camp - if camp were a billion-dollar, cross-country marathon with enormous consequences for the entire world.

People who have spent every waking moment together for the last year are exchanging personal email addresses and talking about what comes next. Those conversations take on a new tone when next means tomorrow.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, traveling with the Romney campaign.

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