WASHINGTON – The presidential candidates crisscrossed the US in a frantic day of
campaigning Sunday, as polls put the race at a virtual dead heat less than 48
hours before Election Day.
In addition to appearances by US President
Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney in swing states including
Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Virginia, campaign surrogates took to podiums and
television screens to lobby for their candidate.
Romney and Obama made
direct appeals for votes in a race that may come down to which side does the
best job of getting its supporters to the polls.
“It’s up to you. You
have the power,” Obama told a crowd of more than 14,000 people who filled the
downtown streets of Concord, New Hampshire. “You will be shaping the decisions
for this country for decades to come, right now, in the next two
In Iowa, Romney urged more than 4,000 people in a Des Moines hall
to get out and vote – and convince a few undecided or former Obama supporters to
back him while they are at it.
Romney, the former governor of
Massachusetts, renewed his argument that he is the candidate who offers real change and can
reach out to Democrats to craft bipartisan agreements.
real change is not just something that I talk about. It’s something that I’ve
done,” Romney told supporters in Des Moines. “And it’s something I’m going to do
when I am president of the United States.”
Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first
White House chief of staff and now the mayor of Chicago, defended Obama’s
national security record on CNN Sunday after a blistering attack by Rudy
Giuliani two days earlier.
Giuliani, who was mayor of New York during the
terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and ran against Romney for the GOP
presidential nomination in 2008, blasted Obama Friday for his handling of the
attacks on American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11,
“What happened in Libya is the result, at least, of incompetence,”
Giuliani said, adding that Americans would have “a chance to right that wrong”
“On Benghazi, the president did exactly what a president
should do,” Emanuel countered, describing Obama as having exercised leadership
with his approach in carefully investigating the incident, in which four
Americans, including the ambassador, were killed. “A mistake, if it was made in
any other agency, then you fix it, and that’s what leadership is. It’s not
trying to point fingers. It’s trying to get to the bottom of
He also used the opportunity to remind viewers that Obama had
taken out Osama bin Laden, something he pledged to focus on during his first run
for the White House.
Earlier in the week, Obama picked up the endorsement
of a different New York mayor, political independent Michael Bloomberg, who had
previously indicated he would not be endorsing either candidate but was moved by
Hurricane Sandy to back Obama.
Despite the intensive efforts of the
campaigns and their supporters, the polls remain essentially
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Sunday showed Obama beating
Romney 48 percent to 47%, but the survey’s margin of error was greater than the
1 point separating the two men.
Polls also show Obama with slight leads
in many of the eight or nine swing states, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and
Nevada – states that would give him more than the 270 electoral votes he needs,
barring any surprises elsewhere.
Victory in these states is seen as
crucial in determining the outcome of the race.
His leads, however, are
mostly slim, the numbers have been tightening and the Romney campaign has been
expanding its range as it sees more states in play.
instance, is a state that had long looked safe for Obama, but now polls show
Romney within striking distance and even tied with Obama there in at least one
The Romney campaign is trying to capitalize on this opening,
sending vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,
Saturday and adding a stop for Romney himself Sunday.
Pennsylvania, we save America in three days,” Ryan told the crowd.
Obama campaign has dismissed the threat that Pennsylvania could go to the
Republicans, but that confidence seemed belied by the last-minute attention the
Democrats were giving to the state.
Second lady Jill Biden was making
several stops in Pennsylvania over the weekend, and former president Bill
Clinton was scheduled to show up on Monday.
Obama himself was scheduled
to hit New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Colorado on Sunday.
of the most significant swing states, has one of the US’s largest concentration
of Jewish voters, particularly in the southern region due to be visited by Obama
He was slated to speak in Hollywood, near Fort
Emanuel said that the Obama camp was visiting Pennsylvania as
well as other swing states because the race was “naturally tightening,” but that
they always thought it would be extremely close.
Emanuel contended that
the race would in the end “come down to a four-letter word,” a joking reference
to his well-known penchant for colorful language.
But the word he offered
Sunday morning was familyfriendly: jobs.
New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie defended his praise for Obama’s support after superstorm Sandy, but
said he would stick with his Republican ticket and vote for Romney in this
“The fact of the matter is what New Jerseyans expect
from their governor is to work for them, not to work for any particular
political party,” Christie told Israel’s Channel 2 television in an interview
broadcast on Sunday.
“I’m a Republican and I have endorsed Mitt Romney, I
support him and I intend to vote for him on Tuesday,” said Christie, interviewed
in his home state.
Christie, a popular governor widely seen as a possible
Republican contender in 2016, had frustrated some in the Romney campaign who
feared he had given what could be a critical boost to Obama, a
He referred to Obama’s pledge of federal aid during a visit to
help New Jersey recover from the storm that knocked out power to some 2.4
million of its residents and said: “If the president of United States comes here
and he’s willing to help my people and he does it then I’m gonna say nice things
about him because he’s earned it.”
Obama “provided help to my people at
one of the worst crises that this state has ever faced,” Christie added. “When
somebody does a good job, they deserve credit.”
“Anybody who is upset in
the Republican Party about this, they haven’t been to New Jersey. Come see the
destruction, come see the loss.”
Reuters contributed to this report.