Romney in final election push
Last night's victory rally was billed as Mitt Romney’s final campaign stop: a return to the battleground state of New Hampshire where he announced his candidacy for the presidential election a year-and-a-half ago.
But, in a last-minute decision, his advisers have added two last-minute stops on election day to his schedule. Mr Romney is due to visit campaign offices in Ohio and Pennsylvania later today as voters go to the polls.
“We’re just going to keep working up until the polls close,” a Romney spokesman told reporters.
Some Democrats claimed it was an act of desperation, but there was no sign of any lack of confidence at last night’s rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, an hour’s drive from Romney’s Boston home.
“Victory in New Hampshire”, read a giant sign that formed a backdrop to the stage. “Real change beings on day one,” promised his new slogan that has appeared over recent days.
His speech was just as strident.
“Tomorrow, we get to work rebuilding our country, restoring our confidence and renewing our conviction, our confidence that we're on a solid path to steady improvement,” Mr Romney said, to roars of approval.
“Confidence that college grads four years from now will have better jobs waiting for them when they graduate. Confidence that single moms who are now working two jobs will have a shot at a better job.
“Now tomorrow, on November 6th, we come together for a better future.
And on November 7th, we'll get to work.”
Some 10,000 supporters had queued in temperatures that hovered just above zero in what was billed by his aides as the “final victory rally” of the campaign. Inside the cavernous Verizon arena - home to the local ice hockey team - Kid Rock played on stage.
But there was little need to warm-up a rowdy and excitable crowd. By the time Mr Romney and his wife Ann arrived on stage just after 11pm, they were met by at least two minutes of sustained cheering.
It was also another chance for Mr Romney to present himself as a moderate and reasonable candidate, as he has done repeatedly over recent days, who would end policy gridlock by working with both sides in Washington.
“I need you to reach across the street to that neighbour with the other yard sign - and we'll reach across the aisle in Washington to people of good faith in the other party. Because this is much more than our moment. It's America's moment of renewal and purpose and optimism,” he said.
His attacks on Mr Obama, however, drew just as big a reaction as he sought ownership of the word that defined the Democratic candidate’s election bid four years ago: change.
“The president promised a lot of change but change can't be measured in speeches,” Mr Romney said. “It has to be measured in achievements and four years ago, candidate Obama promised to do oh so very much.
But he's fallen oh so very short.
“He said he'd said he'd be a post-partisan president, but he's been most partisan, attacking, dividing, blaming. It's not only Republicans he's refused to listen to, he's also didn’t listen to Independent voices. “ The crowd booed and hissed in response.
“Achieving change is not just something I talk about. It’s something I’ve done - and it’s what I’ll do on my first day in office.”
Mr Romney also struck a valedictory note as he thanked volunteers for their hard work and dedication, while urging them to do everything to get out the vote on election day.
In these final moments of the campaign, Mr Romney finds himself a crossroads. After the bruising primary battle, the relentless negative advertising campaign against him and controversy over his “47 per cent” comments, he stands within grasp of the presidency.
He has also shown signs of greater confidence over recent weeks in his speeches, while aides insist he is on course to back the White House for the Republican Party. If last night's speech was anything to go by, Mr Romney believes it as well.
“The door to a brighter future is there, it’s open, it’s waiting for us,” he said, as he concluded the speech. “I need your vote, I need your help. Walk with me, walk together.”