RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. If you trace the routes that President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are traveling in these final days of the campaign, you'll see a crazy tangle of lines running north to New Hampshire, south to Florida and west to Colorado, always doubling back for repeat visits to Ohio. The speeches are getting shorter and the stops more frequent as the candidates try to cram more and more events into the remaining days. Millions of people have already cast their ballots, sometimes enduring long lines to do so. This morning, we'll hear some of the closing arguments from both campaigns. Our coverage begins with NPR's Scott Horsley.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: If your travel agent ever planned an itinerary like this, you'd fire him. But there is a certain logic to the crazy back-and-forth of a campaign's final weekend. For example, Mr. Obama's first three stops yesterday were in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. If the president wins those three, along with the usual Democratic strongholds, he'll have the 270 electoral votes he needs to hang on to the White House. Polling averages suggest Mr. Obama is leading in all three states, but the margins are small. So, a big part of his mission on this frenetic final road trip is making sure his supporters and everyone they know turns out.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If you've already early-voted, then go grab some friends and neighbors and coworkers and boyfriends and girlfriends and - now, you should convince them to vote for me before you drag them to the polls.
HORSLEY: Mr. Obama is trying to do some convincing of his own. He's questioned whether voters can trust what he describes as Governor Romney's 11th hour rebranding as a moderate. And he's tried to reassure voters about his own agenda, saying after four years in office, you know me.
OBAMA: You're watched me age before your eyes. And you may not agree with every decision I've made. Sometimes you may have been frustrated by the pace of change, but you know where I stand.
HORSLEY: All of the states where the president campaigned yesterday have lower-than-average unemployment rates. He says the U.S. economy is on the mend but there's more work to do to build a growing and thriving American middle class.
OBAMA: For eight years, we had a president who shared these beliefs. His name was Bill Clinton.
HORSLEY: Mr. Obama regularly contrasts the strong job growth and broad prosperity of the Clinton years with the anemic growth and widening inequality of the decade that followed. He cast himself as the natural successor to Clinton while trying to paint Governor Romney's policies as a rerun of the trickle-down economics of George W. Bush.
OBAMA: This isn't an abstract debate. We have tried our ideas and they worked. We tried their ideas and they don't work.
HORSLEY: Bill Clinton himself underscored that argument when he joined Mr. Obama and 24,000 others last night at a frosty outdoor rally in Northern Virginia.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I want to vote for the president who has a budget, who has a plan, that will produce broad-based prosperity.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
CLINTON: I want to vote for a president who's been a good commander-in-chief and a good decider-in-chief. And I want to vote for a president who's been through the fire of these last four years and brought America out on the other side ready to take off.
HORSLEY: The former president has become a kind of super-surrogate for Mr. Obama. They'll campaign together again today in New Hampshire. That's one of five states Mr. Obama will visit in a schedule that has him traveling till well past midnight. The pace can be exhausting - the president's voice is getting hoarse - but political adviser David Axelrod says Mr. Obama is finding new energy on the campaign trail.
DAVID AXELROD: I've never seen him more exhilarated than he is right now. He believes in what he's doing. And when he looks out at those crowds, he sees the people who he's fighting for.
HORSLEY: Mr. Obama tells supporters he hopes they have some fight left, too, for the last three days of the president's last campaign. Scott Horsley, NPR News, traveling with the president. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.