Candidates include Florida in final push

Obama focuses on turnout; Romney on Pennsylvania

Published On: Nov 04 2012 08:39:14 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 04 2012 09:08:39 AM EST
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -

Just two days from the finish, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney both plan stops in Florida -- its 29 electoral votes the biggest contested prize -- in their frenetic campaign schedules.

Both campaigns were predicting wins in Tuesday's election. Obama was closing out the campaign with an apparent edge in some key battleground states, including Ohio. But Romney's campaign was projecting momentum and banking on late-breaking voters to propel him to victory in the exceedingly close race.

Several polls last week show a virtual tie in Florida between Obama and Romney, with neither candidate claiming a lead outside the margin of error in any survey. But a Mason-Dixon poll released Saturday for The Miami Herald and The Tampa Bay Times showed Romney with 51 percent and Obama with 45 percent.

Both Obama and Romney will make one last push in the state before Tuesday.

Obama, who canceled an Orlando appearance Tuesday morning to focus on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, will hold a Sunday afternoon rally at McArthur High School in Broward County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold.

Romney who made stops in Jacksonville and two other Florida cities on Wednesday, will speak at a Monday morning rally at Orlando-Sanford International Airport.

Watch both campaign rallies streaming live on News4Jax.com

The candidate's spouses or running mates will also scheduled final visits to the Sunshine State in the days before the election.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who was just in Jacksonville on Thursday, will speak Monday night in Orlando.

Paul Ryan told an outdoor rally at the Panama City marina Saturday night: “Florida is key, you know that. Florida is everything.”

The Obama and Romney schedules for the final days of the campaign show them jetting to rallies in nine states, with a particular emphasis on Ohio and its 18 electoral votes.

"Words are cheap and a record is real and it's earned with effort," Romney said Saturday, making a final appeal to voters in Colorado.

Romney was cutting away briefly Sunday from the nine or so competitive states that have dominated the candidates' travel itineraries this fall. Romney, along with running mate Paul Ryan, had an early evening event planned in Morrisville, Pa., his first rally in the state this fall.

Romney's visit follows the decision by his campaign and its Republican allies to put millions of dollars in television advertising in Pennsylvania during the race's final weeks. Obama's team followed suit, making a late advertising buy of its own.

The Republican ticket cast the late push into the Keystone State as a sign that Romney had momentum and a chance to pull away states that Obama's campaign assumed it would win handily. The president's team called the move a "Hail Mary" and a sign Romney still doesn't have a clear pathway to reaching the required 270 Electoral College votes.

Democrats have a million-voter registration advantage in Pennsylvania. Obama senior adviser David Plouffe said that means Romney would have to win two-thirds of the state's independents, a prospect he called "an impossibility."

The president caught a few hours of sleep back at the White House Saturday night before hitting the campaign trail again Sunday. After Marine One lifts off from the South Lawn Sunday morning, Obama won't return to the executive mansion again until after Election Day.

Obama had a full schedule Sunday.  In addition to the Florida visit, he has campaign stops planned in New Hampshire, Ohio and Colorado.

The president's rallies are aimed at boosting Democratic enthusiasm and motivating as many supporters as possible to cast their votes, either in the final hours of early voting or on Tuesday, Election Day. Persuading undecided voters, now just a tiny sliver of the electorate in battleground states, has become a secondary priority.

Obama and former President Bill Clinton drew 24,000 people to an outdoor rally in Bristow, Va., on a cold Saturday night.

Clinton, his voice hoarse after a week of campaigning, said he had "given my voice in the service of my president." But that didn't stop him from launching into a 30-minute defense of Obama and his economic policies.

He also slammed Romney for his shifting positions, saying "He could be the chief contortionist for Cirque de Soleil."

Obama, who spoke second, embraced Clinton as he walked on stage. The president said at this stage of the campaign, he was largely "a prop" and the race was in the voters' hands.

"The power is not with us anymore," he said. "It's all up to you."

Obama's campaign said it had registered 1.8 million voters in key battleground states, nearly double the number of voters they registered in 2008. Campaign officials said volunteers had made 125 million personal phone calls or door knocks with voters.

Romney has also attracted large crowds in the final weekend of campaigning. His rally in Ohio on Friday drew more than 20,000 people.

The Republican nominee has been using teleprompters to deliver his final campaign speeches. He's claiming the mantle of change -- and highlighting what he says was a bipartisan record as governor of Massachusetts.

In addition to Pennsylvania, Romney will campaign Sunday in Iowa, Ohio and Virginia.