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Obama and Romney (and Springsteen and Kid Rock) enter home stretch

President Barack Obamshakes hands with singer Bruce Springsteen during campaign event near State Capitol Building MadisWis. Monday Nov. 5 2012.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with singer Bruce Springsteen during a campaign event near the State Capitol Building in Madison, Wis., Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Updated: December 7, 2012 6:27AM



MADISON, Wis. — With the help of legendary rocker Bruce Springsteen, President Barack Obama drew nearly 20,000 to downtown Madison in a pre-election rally Monday as Kid Rock gave Mitt Romney a boost in New Hampshire.

The increasingly weary candidates, nearly deadlocked in national polls, criss-crossed the swing states on the eve of the election in an intense fight to the finish for both campaigns.

There was increasing talk that the contest was so close that it would go into overtime with possible recounts. Obama held a slight lead in national polls but his campaign on Monday insisted that early voting tracking in key states favored the president.

In recent days, the two men and their surrogates have flown in and out of the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Florida and Iowa. Republicans now believe that Pennsylvania could also be play, so Romney added last-minute Election Day stops — in both Pennsylvania and Ohio while Obama was expected to spend the day in Chicago.

Romney rallied across four states on Monday, including a stop before a cheering crowd of more than 8,000 people at George Mason University’s Patriot Center arena in Fairfax, Va.

“The same course we’re on isn’t going to lead to a better destination. The same course we’re on is going to lead to $20 billion in debt,” Romney said. “Unless we change course, we also may be looking at another recession.”

Thousands more gathered inside an airplane hangar in Orlando to greet the GOP candidate.

“Look, we have one job left, and that’s to make sure that on Election Day, we make certain that everybody that’s qualified to vote gets out to vote,” Romney said. “We need every single vote in Florida.”

Romney’s day was scheduled to end with a rally with Kid Rock in Manchester, N.H.

Obama began his election eve blitz in Madison, Wis., Monday morning. Thousands of people filled the streets to hear one boss sing — and another ask to be re-eleccted.

Bruce Springsteen’s legendary voice echoed through downtown Madison as he offered a spirited boost to Obama in this must-win swing state with the aid of a guitar and a harmonica.

“It will be great to feel the power of your voices and your votes tomorrow. I’m here today for Wisconsin, America and for President Obama,” Springsteen said to cheers.

He said after 63 years of life, he and his wife had lived through some galvanizing moments in American history, including the Civil Rights struggle, the Peace Movement, the Woman’s Movement, playing in East Berlin one year before the fall and before apartheid ended.

“And ... we both remember another galvanizing moment, the night that President Obama was elected.”

Obama’s Madison visit would be the first of a series of stops for the president. He is planning to spend Election Day in Chicago.

“You may not agree with every decision I’ve made — Michelle doesn’t either,” Obama said. “You may be frustrated at the pace of change. I promise you, so am I sometimes. But you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say.”

Obama then headed to Ohio and ended the day in Iowa — where it all began for him.

Romney’s plan for a last-minute blast into Ohio didn’t seem to impact the Obama campaign.

“There’s no plans to leave the state of Illinois at this point. I don’t think that will change,” said his campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “Ohio remains a very difficult nut for them to crack. And we feel we have a superior ground game and a superior campaign in the state, and we’re confident of victory there tomorrow.”

There was mixed response to the president’s presence in Wisconsin.

Some carried some frustration with Obama for not visiting Madison when it was in the midst of an acrimonious union battle versus the governor, something that eventually led to a bitter recall election that Gov. Scott Walker survived.

“I know he wants us to have his back. He didn’t have ours,” said William Schuth, 30. “He was silent on it.”

Schuth and his wife, Joanna, both 30, said they do back some of Obama’s plans.

“I’m voting defensively because Mitt Romney as president could be devastation for me and my family.”

To Madison resident Kerry Enger, 33, seeing Obama in person meant something deeply personal.

“His Affordable Care Act saved my life,” said Enger, who has endured two bone marrow transplants and 26 months of chemotherapy.

“I couldn’t even walk a few months ago.”

Enger, who has Multiple Myeloma, said he lost his job because of his severe health issues and was soon paying $873 a month for health care. He said he lost his house, lost his 401 (k) and his life savings to pay his medical costs.

He said the health care act allowed him to get insurance regardless of his having a preexisting condition.

Romney and congressional Republicans have blasted so-called “Obamacare,” vowed to repeal it and said that the president carelessly drove up the deficit because he was more concerned with his legacy than with boosting the economy.

Contributing: Associated Press



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