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Romney Sets Last-Minute Election Day Appearances


It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

This is a day that many Americans will spend staring at maps of the United States.

INSKEEP: Some who are not staring already have the electoral map in their heads, as they calculate ways that President Obama or Mitt Romney can win 270 electoral votes.

MONTAGNE: In order to win, President Obama would need to hang on to painfully close leads in several states.

INSKEEP: Mitt Romney needs to win the states he leads narrowly, and also capture a few states where the president leads.

MONTAGNE: Both men spent the last full day of the campaign skipping across the map.

INSKEEP: And we start our coverage with NPR's Ari Shapiro.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Mitt Romney launched his campaign on a New Hampshire farm in June of 2011. The primaries had just begun. Last night, after 17 months and thousands of miles, Romney returned to New Hampshire for an election eve rally at the finish line, in a stadium packed to capacity with 12,000 roaring supporters.


MITT ROMNEY: This is where our began - our campaign began. You got this campaign started a year and a half ago at the Scamman Farm.

SHAPIRO: That rally ended a long day that says as much about the state of this race as it does about the candidate.

Leading up to New Hampshire, Romney stopped yesterday in Florida, Virginia and Ohio. Those have been three of the most important swing states all along, and they remain so now. To win tonight, Romney must carry at least two of them.


ROMNEY: What a way to start the day. This is fabulous. What a way to start an election.

SHAPIRO: In Orlando, Romney seemed energized and relieved that the end is in sight.


ROMNEY: Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow.

SHAPIRO: He spoke at an airport. On the tarmac behind him, the plane that's served as a flying home these last few months stood as a backdrop.


ROMNEY: We can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow, and with the help of the people in Florida, that's exactly what's going to happen.

SHAPIRO: Romney described a suffering economy, a tepid recovery, and the struggles of working Americans. But introducing the candidate, Florida Governor Rick Scott gave a different message.


GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT: The biggest drop in unemployment in the country is in our great state of Florida.

SHAPIRO: In Virginia, another governor introduced the candidate. Bob McDonnell emphasized the amount of work Romney has put into winning the state.


GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: He's spent three of the last five days of the campaign right here in Virginia. Paul Ryan was here all day Saturday. They spent an immense amount of time and effort and energy.

SHAPIRO: Virginia was the only state to get two rallies from Romney yesterday, starting in Lynchburg. Even in the conservative hometown of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Romney distanced himself a bit from the idea of party.


ROMNEY: Now, so many of you look at the big debates we have in this country not as a Republican or as a Democrat, but as an American. You watch what has happened over this country over the last four years with an independent voice. You hoped that the president would live up to his promise to bring people together to solve big problems. He hasn't. I will.

SHAPIRO: For all the focus on Virginia, there is no state where Romney spent more time in this race than Ohio. For his final Ohio rally, the Romney plane pulled nose-first into a packed hangar with a new sound track: Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."


SHAPIRO: Ann Romney had to compose herself as she looked out over the sea of 10,000 people.


ANN ROMNEY: That - I - I am just so moved. It's just so emotional to be here and to have this kind of reception from Ohio, a state that is going to make the next president of the United States.

SHAPIRO: Ohio is so important that Romney scheduled one more stop there. At the last minute, his campaign announced that Romney will do Get Out the Vote activities in Cleveland today. That's an obvious choice. But the campaign also announced that the candidate would drop by his offices in Pittsburgh.

Before this weekend, Romney had not visited Pennsylvania in more than a month. The state hasn't gone Republican in more than 20 years, but it's part of a last-minute Republican effort to expand the map.

Late last night, Romney finally touched down in New Hampshire, where a packed stadium gave him a two-minute screaming standing ovation before they finally allowed him to begin talking.


ROMNEY: Your primary vote put me on the path to win the Republican nomination, and tomorrow, your votes and your work right here in New Hampshire will help me become the next president of the United States.

SHAPIRO: Most of Romney's senior advisors have been flying on the plane with him for the last few days, staying relentlessly positive through this final stretch.

Yesterday, traveling press secretary Rick Gorka was asked what Mitt Romney will eat tonight for his last meal. Gorka deadpanned: He'll live beyond Tuesday. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, traveling with the Romney campaign. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.