THE RACE: Candidates making final pitch for votes

November 5, 2012 - 3:33 PM
Romney 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney picks up a baby as he arrives at a Florida campaign rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport, in Sanford, Fla., Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The presidential candidates and their running mates dashed from one battleground state to another Monday in a grand finale to one of the longest, fiercest and by far most expensive American campaigns ever.

They were pursuing elusive last-minute votes able to put one or the other over the top.

On Election Day eve, President Barack Obama led rival Mitt Romney in most national and many swing-state polls, but that advantage was razor-thin and within margins of error.

Both candidates focused on states they see as especially tight or where they're ahead but vulnerable.

"We can begin a better tomorrow, tomorrow," Romney told a morning airport-hangar rally in Sanford, Fla., as the crowd chanted back "one more day!"

The former Massachusetts governor, who has been running for president for most of the past six years, was also stumping in Ohio — historically a must-win state for Republicans — then Virginia and New Hampshire.

Obama, with rock legend Bruce Springsteen in tow, was campaigning in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa.

"I get to fly around with him on the last day that I will ever campaign," Obama said of the entertainer at a rally in Madison, Wis. "So that's not a bad way to end things."

Vice President Joe Biden campaigned across Virginia while his GOP counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan stumped in Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and home-state Wisconsin.

With crowds on both sides swelling and enthusiasm surging — something typical of a campaign's final days — both sides predicted victory as the nearly $3 billion marathon drew to a close.

But while they charted different routes to the required 270 electoral votes, the electoral math slightly favored Obama, who needs to pick up fewer additional swing-state electors than does Romney.

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Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APcampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2012