Published — Sunday 4 November 2012
Last update 4 November 2012 4:26 pm
Bristow, Virginia: President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney will fight crushing fatigue Sunday as they criss-cross America on the penultimate day of their tense and tight White House campaign.
Obama and Romney are both bearing the signs of exhaustion as they dart from swing state to swing state, trying to fire up enthusiasm among supporters and win over any last wavering voters before Tuesday's election.
His voice husky from endless rallies, Obama will fly to New Hampshire to reprise a late night buddy act with Bill Clinton on Saturday, which saw the ex-president place his popular economic legacy on the younger man's shoulders.
On a grueling swing that will end in Wisconsin in the early hours of Tuesday, election eve, Obama will also travel to Florida, Colorado and Ohio on Sunday.
Romney, clearly also feeling the pace of the frenzied endgame of a bitter White House race, will be in Iowa, Ohio and Virginia.
The Republican nominee will also make a run into Pennsylvania, long seen as a safe Obama state, but which Republicans think is now in play.
Obama seemed late Saturday to come to a wistful public realization that after spending hundreds of millions of dollars, heading interminable rallies and traveling for months, his fate was no longer in his own hands.
"I'm just a prop of the campaign," Obama told a crowd of 24,000 people on a chilly night in an outdoor concert venue in Bristow, Virginia.
"The power is not with us anymore, the planning, everything we do, it doesn't matter."
"It's all up to you, it's up to the volunteers ... you have got the power. That's how democracy is supposed to be."
Clinton told the crowd that Obama had done his best with "a bad hand" and deserved to be re-elected, as, in his folksy southern way, he went about dismantling Mitt Romney's record and capacity to serve as president.
"I have given my voice in the service of my president," a hoarse Clinton said, on the latest of more than two dozen campaign events for Obama, before 24,000 people on a chill night in the battleground state of Virginia.
Clinton, a valuable character witness for Obama, will headline four rallies for Obama on Monday in Pennsylvania, to counter Romney's late push into the state.
Obama's team says Romney's raid is a sign of desperation and an acknowledgement that he can no longer put together the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election in the classic swing states.
They insist that they are in no danger of losing the state.
With two days to go in a race that has turned on Obama's economic record and Romney's past as a venture capitalist and the question of whether he is ready to lead, the candidates are closely matched.
They are effectively tied in national polls of the popular vote but Obama appears to be in a stronger position in the battleground states, and if the polls are accurate seems to be in position to win re-election.
In the latest show of good news for the president, he led Romney by five points in Iowa in a poll by the respected Des Moines Register newspaper, and also appears well placed in Nevada and Ohio -- in the trio of "firewall" states that could hand him re-election.
On Saturday, the rivals chased one another though the territory that will decide whether Obama will win a second term or whether Romney will recapture the White House for Republicans.
Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan trumpeted a "put country first" message to voters as he campaigned in New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado.
In Milwaukee, Obama had pop star Katy Perry -- wearing a tight blue dress embossed with the incumbent's "Forward" slogan -- warm up a crowd estimated at 20,000.
Obama hit out at what he said was Romney's plan to let Wall Street return to the days when it had "free rein to do whatever" it liked, which he said had led to economic woes "we're still cleaning our way out of."
Wisconsin had been considered safe Democratic territory, but a combination of a resurgent Republican Party, waning enthusiasm for Obama and home state hero Ryan as Romney's running mate has tightened the race.
Later, the president stopped in Iowa, the rural state that nurtured his dreams of the White House back in 2007, and wrapped up against the chill dusk air in a central square of the city of Dubuque spoke to a crowd of 5,000.
"I started my presidential journey right here in this state ... after two years of campaigning and after four years as president," he said.
"You know me by now," he added, implicitly comparing his trustworthiness to that of Romney.
Romney also debuted a new political ad Saturday, seizing on Obama's comment in Ohio a day earlier when he told supporters angry at the Republicans not to boo but to vote, saying "voting's the best revenge."
The ad featured Romney telling his biggest crowd of the campaign in Ohio Friday that Obama "asked his supporters to vote for revenge -- for revenge."
"Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country," said Romney, who repeated the message at a rally in Dubuque, Iowa where he blasted Obama for high unemployment and high gas prices, before traveling to Colorado.
In Colorado Springs, Romney said he saw Tuesday as "a moment to look into the future, and imagine what we can do to put the past four years behind us."
"We're that close right now," he said. "The door to a brighter future is there."