'This Is No Malarkey': Judgment Day on the Campaign Trail
This evening's White House guidance sent to reporters summed up Tuesday's schedule for the president as so: "In the evening, the President will deliver remarks at a campaign event at McCormick Place, Lakeside Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Vice President, the First Family and Dr. Biden will also attend."
And that will be the end of Campaign 2012 -- whether it's a victory speech or concession, whether the country has President-elect Mitt Romney or four more years of President Obama, or whether a razor-thin vote keeps the country tangled in weeks of recounts and lawsuits.
Despite weeks of early voting, both parties pressed hard on the stump today for one last shot at those Nov. 6 voting traditionalists.
Obama brought Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, and Bill Clinton along. Romney spent his last campaign night with Kid Rock.
Both had swing states on their minds. Romney went to events in Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Obama hit Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa before landing in Chicago.
GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stopped in Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, and Ohio before landing in his home state. Vice President Joe Biden hit a variety of stops around Virginia, campaigning with John Mellencamp and Meg Ryan.
Accompanied by his wife Jill, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and former Gov. Tim Kaine (D), Biden dropped in at a Roanoke volunteer center with a stack of pizzas.
"This is no malarkey. We genuinely feel good about the campaign," Biden said, according to the White House pool report. "I’ve spent an awful lot of time in what they call the firewall – Ohio and Iowa and Wisconsin. We’re going to win all three of those states. We’re going to win Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado. We have a chance not just to win but actually to make a real statement about unifying this country."
In Johnstown, Colo., Ryan opened by reassuring the crowd, "One more day, one more day."
"I got to meet John Elway last night. And, yes, he reminded me the last time the Packers and the Broncos met in the Super Bowl, but if we were going to lose, at least we lost to a class act like that," Ryan said. "But he also wished us well. He said he was behind us. He's fighting for us. And I've got to tell you, from traveling this state all around, I want to thank you. I want to thank Coloradans because you care about your country. You know what built our country. And tomorrow, you're going to help us save our country."
Obama told the crowd in Columbus that he brought along Jay-Z and Springsteen because "they tell the story of what our country is but also what it should be and what it can be and what we need to fight for."
"This is not just a choice between two candidates or two parties. It's a choice between two different visions of America," the president said, a refrain heard over and over again through the campaign. "It's a choice between a return to the top-down economic policies that crashed our economy, or a vision that says, we've got to build a strong foundation based on a strong and growing middle class, an opportunity for everybody, not just some."
In Fairfax, Va., Romney also hit familiar notes, calling out Obama on the unemployment rate and his vow to be a post-partisan president.
"You know, when the president promised change, you actually look and see what happened because change can't be measured in speeches. It's measured in achievements and, four years ago, then candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he's done so very little," Romney said.
"I mean, he promised to be, as you recall, a post-partisan president, but he was most partisan and he has attacked and blamed and divided. And it's not only Republicans he's refused to listen to. It's also independent voices."
Naturally, the airwaves were anything but independent on this final campaign day as this left-right battle came down to the wire.
"I wouldn't say we're the closest of friends, but we understand each other very well, and we work together well. And frankly I have no doubts that we'll continue to work together well," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said of Romney on Fox. "His campaign is solid. Defeating an incumbent president is an overwhelming job. Just ask John Kerry. It's really hard to do."
Boehner echoed the point with which most pollsters and pundits do agree: that he'll keep his gavel after tomorrow.
"We will hold our majority, and I expect that I'll continue to be speaker," Boehner said.
"We're going to win this election, of course. I can tell you this, I believe that the Democratic Party and the president are really on the cusp of history," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on MSNBC.
"There's an uncertainty in this business, for sure. I think we've done all our homework. They've kind of given me the Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin party to work over and over again," Durbin added. "I've been in those states. I've seen it on the ground. I believe we're going to close the deal in each of those states. We have a strong position."
"We know there’s a lot of fantasy talk happening from the Romney team about the number of electoral votes that they think they’re going to achieve. We’re not going to get into that kind of predictions," Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Columbus. "But the only thing that matters is that more people vote for President Obama than vote for Mitt Romney. We’re confident of that and we’re not going to get into hypotheticals beyond that."
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said one doesn't want to "over-indulge in polls," but said on CBS that GOP enthusiasm is "reflective of the intensity four years ago."
"I saw an article somewhere where it described the Democrats as sort of grim determination. You know, it's kind of hard to win with grim determination as opposed to real genuine excitement. But the internal polls is what it's all about," Kasich said.
"Anything is possible out here," he said of his home state. "It's so close there isn't any question -- look, if I were to hear Obama won, would I be stunned? No, but but, I don't expect that will happen."
With such a tight outcome expected, and accusations of voting irregularities expected, both campaigns were preparing for challenges over the next day -- and for potential court action beyond Tuesday, as well.
"We want to be prepared to make sure that people have confidence that their vote is going to count. So that's why we have lawyers in states -- Florida, of course, is one of them; Ohio and any of these swing states. And we're dealing with issues that come up on a case-by-case basis," Psaki said.
"It's not that there are more issues than there have been in past years, but you always want to be prepared to make sure that people who are voting for the first time, people who haven't voted in 20 years -- we've seen many reports of people who are 90 and are voting for the first time -- are confident that their vote will count," she continued. "So that's why we're fortunate we have lawyers in states across the country. And we're going to be dealing with issues on case by case. We're confident we'll be able to resolve them."
While stressing that nothing will be left to chance and being similarly prepared for challenges, the Romney camp expressed confidence that it wouldn't need the legal wrangling in the end.
"We are committed to ensuring an open and fair election for all Americans and we are confident we will win the election decisively on November 6th," rapid response director Lenny Alcivar told PJM.