US President Barack Obama and Republican US presidential candidate Mitt Romney were to fight crushing fatigue yesterday as they criss-crossed the US on the penultimate day of their tense White House campaign, with a new poll showed them running neck-and-neck.
Obama and Romney are both showing signs of exhaustion as they dart from swing state to swing state, trying to fire up enthusiasm among supporters and win over any last undecided voters before tomorrow’s election.
His voice husky from endless rallies, Obama was to fly to New Hampshire to reprise a late-night buddy act with former US president Bill Clinton on Saturday, which saw the former president place his popular economic legacy on the younger man’s shoulders.
On a grueling swing that will end in Wisconsin in the early hours of tomorrow morning, Obama was to also travel to Florida, Colorado and Ohio yesterday.
Romney, clearly also feeling the pace of the frenzied endgame of a bitter White House race, was to be in Iowa, Ohio and Virginia.
The Republican nominee was to also make a run into Pennsylvania, long seen as a safe Obama state, but which Republicans think is now in play.
Obama seemed late on Saturday to come to a wistful public realization that after spending hundreds of millions of dollars, heading interminable rallies and traveling for months, his fate was no longer in his own hands.
“I’m just a prop of the campaign,” Obama told a crowd of 24,000 people on a chilly night in an outdoor concert venue in Bristow, Virginia. “The power is not with us anymore, the planning, everything we do, it doesn’t matter. It’s all up to you, it’s up to the volunteers ... you have got the power. That’s how democracy is supposed to be.”
Clinton told the crowd that Obama had done his best with “a bad hand” and deserved to be re-elected, as, in his folksy southern way, he went about dismantling Romney’s record and his ability to serve as president.
“I have given my voice in the service of my president,” a hoarse Clinton said on the latest of more than two dozen campaign events for Obama, before 24,000 people on a chill night in the battleground state of Virginia.
Clinton, a valuable character witness for Obama, will headline four rallies for Obama today in Pennsylvania to counter Romney’s late push into the state.
Obama’s team said Romney’s raid was a sign of desperation and an acknowledgement that he can no longer put together the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election in the classic swing states.
They insist that they are in no danger of losing the state.
With two days to go in a race that has turned on Obama’s economic record and Romney’s past as a venture capitalist and the question of whether he is ready to lead, the candidates are closely matched.
They are effectively tied in national polls of the popular vote, but Obama appears to be in a stronger position in the battleground states, and if the polls are accurate, seems to be in position to win re-election.
In the latest show of good news for the president, he led Romney by 5 points in Iowa in a poll by the respected Des Moines Register newspaper, and also appears well placed in Nevada and Ohio — in the trio of “firewall” states that could hand him re-election.
However, the latest ABC News/Washington Post survey showed that the race for the White House was tied, with both Obama and Romney receiving 48 percent support among likely votes.
On Saturday, the rivals chased one another though the territory that will decide whether Obama will win a second term or whether Romney will recapture the White House for Republicans.
Romney and his running mate, US Representative Paul Ryan trumpeted a “put country first” message to voters as he campaigned in New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado.
In Milwaukee, Obama had pop star Katy Perry — wearing a tight blue dress embossed with the incumbent’s “Forward” slogan — warm up a crowd estimated at 20,000.
Obama hit out at what he said was Romney’s plan to let Wall Street return to the days when it had “free rein to do whatever” it liked, which he said had led to economic woes “we’re still cleaning our way out of.”