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With less than forty-eight hours before Election Day, President Barack Obama implored supporters to get to the polls and Mitt Romney made a longshot push in traditionally Democratic Pennsylvania for an alternate path to victory.
Romney planned a stop in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, later today, marking his first time in the state since Sept. 28. As polls show Obama closing out the campaign with an edge in Ohio and Iowa, a victory in Pennsylvania could give Romney a way to capture the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. Democrats said the effort is a sign of the Republican’s desperation.
Kicking off a busy day of campaigning in Iowa this morning, Romney rallied thousands of supporters with promises he would work with Democrats to change the direction of the country.
“You reach across the street to your neighbor with a yard sign,” Romney told several thousand voters in Des Moines. “I’ll reach across the aisle to the people from the other party.”
Democrat Obama began campaigning in New Hampshire, standing side-by-side with former President Bill Clinton as he assured 14,000 supporters he would continue to push and protect Democratic priorities such as health care and college financial aid.
“We have made real progress,” the president said in Concord. “Our work is not yet done. Our fight has to go on.”
The two candidates conducted 11th-hour searches for votes as a poll released today suggested that the president’s response to the damage from Hurricane Sandy helped his standing with voters. Nationwide, Obama led Romney 48 percent to 45 percent in an Oct. 31-Nov. 3 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s handling of the storm recovery. An Oct. 24-28 survey by Pew, conducted before Sandy hit the Northeast, showed the race was deadlocked at 47 percent apiece.
Today’s survey of 2,709 likely voters has an error margin of 2.2 percentage points. Women voters favor Obama 53 percent to 40 percent, while Romney holds an advantage over Obama among men, 50 percent to 42 percent.
Speaking to supporters today in Cleveland, Ohio, Romney said a win by Obama is “possible but not likely.”
White House senior adviser David Plouffe described Romney’s push in Pennsylvania today, as a “desperate ploy at the end of the campaign” on ABC’s “This Week.” Republican aides insist the state is in play, casting their late push as a sign their campaign has momentum and can compete in areas Democrats assumed they would win handily.
“This is one of those states that came into view after the first debate,” Romney spokesman Kevin Madden told reporters on his campaign plane. “We see it as a great opportunity.”
Romney’s campaign and their Republican allies have poured millions of dollars in advertising into Pennsylvania in the final weeks. Democrats, though, have a million-voter registration advantage and say they have built a stronger turnout operation to get their supporters to the polls.
A Pennsylvania poll showed the race tightening for the state’s 20 electoral votes.
Obama led Romney in a Franklin & Marshall College Poll of registered Pennsylvania voters, 48 percent to 44 percent. The survey, conducted Oct. 23-28, had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points. The president’s lead was cut from 11 points in September.
Romney’s itinerary shows he and his advisers “understand they are in deep trouble,” Axelrod said on a “Fox News Sunday” broadcast. “They have tried to expand the map because they know in states like Ohio” that “they are behind and they are not catching up.”
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, one of Romney’s leading surrogates on the campaign trail, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” it would be difficult for the Republican to win the White House without Ohio. “I wouldn’t want to risk it,” he said.
No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio. A Columbus Dispatch poll showed that Obama’s 50 percent to 48 percent lead over Romney in Ohio was within the mail survey’s 2.2 percentage point error margin among 1,501 likely voters. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday showed Obama led Romney 51 percent to 45 percent in the state, outside the survey’s 3.1 percentage point margin of error.
As Romney crisscrossed battleground states and time zones in his final campaign sprint, he was joined by more than a dozen of his top aides. With their strategy set and little left to do except watch the polls, the advisers took photos, joked on the campaign plane and savored the final moments of a presidential bid almost six-years in the making.
“It’s hard not be just really moved by it,” said deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage. “Especially when you started out where we did a year ago.”
The president was headed to Florida, where Democrats said they filed suit to force Republican Governor Rick Scott to extend early voting because of record turnout in South Florida, a Democratic stronghold.
“We encourage anyone who is in line to vote to stay in line,” Rod Smith, the Florida Democratic Party chairman, said in a statement. “As long as you are in line when the polls close, you can still vote.”
To contact the reporters on this story: James Rowley in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; Lisa Lerer in Des Moines or email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org