The final full day of the 2012 presidential campaign has featured a swing-state spring by two candidates determined to leave nothing to chance in a razor-tight election.
Mitt Romney held campaign events in Florida and Virginia — two states where recent polls suggest he has an advantage — and announced he’d take the unusual step of holding campaign events in Cleveland and Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
President Obama began a star-speckled day in Wisconsin, where Bruce Springsteen introduced him to a crowd in Madison. Springsteen and rapper Jay-Z were scheduled to attend a rally in Columbus, and the “Born in the USA” rocker was also set to perform in Iowa, the state where Obama will conclude his campaign.
The three states represent the Midwest “firewall” Obama hopes will ensure his reelection on Tuesday. Obama has held a consistent lead in all three states, and if Romney loses any of the three, his path to 270 electoral votes is impossible — unless he can pull off a surprise in Pennsylvania.
The Romney campaign did not immediately reveal if the events in Cleveland and Pittsburgh will be large political rallies, or visits to Romney campaign offices in the state. Candidates traditionally shy away from large rallies on Election Day, hoping passionate supporters will both cast their ballots and assist in get-out-the-vote operations.
Romney has visited both Ohio and Pennsylvania in the closing days of the campaign. His visit to the Philadelphia area Sunday was his first there in weeks, and drew tens of thousands of supporters.
Candidates by tradition stay off the campaign trail on Election Day, suggesting Romney felt the events were necessary to win Ohio or broaden the playing field to Pennsylvania, where his campaign is making a real bid in the last week of the fight.
The only thing certain about the election is that it is close. Most national polls show the candidates within a point of one another, with a Gallup survey on Monday finding Romney holding a 49-48 percent lead.
Romney is thought to have an edge in Virginia and Florida, with Obama holding a lead in Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and New Hampshire. But the polls are close enough that either campaign can argue it has a legitimate chance to win any of those six states, along with Colorado.
Polls also show a tightening race in Pennsylvania, a state where a Romney victory would dramatically change the roadmaps to 270 votes. Obama has held a consistent lead in the state, which no Republican has won since 1988.
Vice President Biden on Monday voiced confidence, saying he believed Obama's firewall would hold in Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio. Biden said he also believed his ticket would win New Hampshire and Nevada. He said Florida "will be close but I think we have a real shot at winning," and that in Virginia the president also has a "clear shot at winning."
The president sought to rally his base in Madison during his first campaign event of the day. He told supporters that Romney is betting on cynicism, “but ... my bet’s on you.”
Obama said the Washington “status quo” are counting on his supporters being “so worn down, so fed up, so tired of all the squabbling, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you’re just going to give up and walk away and leave them ... right where they are, pulling the strings, pulling the levers and you locked out,” Obama continued, before adding, “In other words, their bet is on cynicism. But Wisconsin, my bet’s on you.”
Romney told a crowd in Florida's critical I-4 corridor that Election Day will “begin a better tomorrow.”
“We can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow, and with the help of the people of Florida, that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” he said at an event in Sanford.
A Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald poll had Romney leading Obama by 6 points, while a poll by left-leaning Public Policy Polling had Obama clinging to a 1-point lead. Who ever wins the I-4 corridor generally wins Florida's 29 electoral votes.
Romney also blasted Obama’s economic record, saying “unemployment is higher now than it was when President Obama took office.”
“The president thinks more government is the answer,” Romney said. “No, Mr. President, more jobs, that’s the answer for America.”
Romney is also making a campaign stop Monday in Virginia, another state where polls suggest the two men are deadlocked.
Surrogates for the two campaigns have a busy day on the road, too. GOP vice presidential candidate Paul RyanPaul RyanObamaCare gets new lease on life Ellison to Dems: Don't gloat, get ready for round 2 Trump blames Democrats for ObamaCare defeat MORE travels to Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin on Monday, while Biden swings through two stops in Virginia.
First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle ObamaObama and Trump haven’t talked since inauguration For Democrats, no clear leader Obama reportedly spending a month in French Polynesia MORE is in Florida and North Carolina before joining her husband in Iowa.
Both sides are devoting much of their time to shore up areas they see as their strengths.
While Obama campaigns in the Midwest, Romney’s visits to both Florida and Virginia are intended to ensure he holds on to states where he has polled strongly in recent weeks. The Republican has little chance of winning the election if he loses either Virginia or Florida.
In Nevada, Ryan touted his running mate's leadership as governor of Massachusetts, when he said Romney routinely worked with Democratic lawmakers.
The Republican vice presidential candidate told voters in the state that the Romney campaign was "counting on" their six electoral votes.
"We know we can do this," Ryan said. "Let's just run through the tape. Leave it all out on the field."
— Posted at 1:13 p.m. and updated at 2:31 p.m.