Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press
Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press
CINCINNATI – Making his way west two days before Election Day, President Barack Obama urged backers Sunday to get themselves and their friends out to the polls on his behalf.
“I need you, Ohio!” Obama said (twice) during a nighttime rally at the University of Cincinnati basketball arena.
Aides to Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney believe the Buckeye State is the key to the election, and that getting their voters out is the key to winning Ohio.
Obama’s visit to Cincinnati came after earlier stops in Concord, N.H., and Hollywood, Fla. He planned to wrap up Sunday night at a community college in Aurora, Colo.
The Ohio event also illustrated some of the nation’s political divisions, as two hecklers were forcibly removed from the arena after yelling at the president, one apparently over the abortion issue.
Earlier, Obama had launched the final 48 hours of his re-election campaign Sunday with former president Bill Clinton, both arguing that Democratic economic plans are better for the middle class than Romney’s.
Both Obama and Clinton said Romney’s proposals, including more tax cuts for the wealthy, mirror those of Republican President George W. Bush, which led to the economic meltdown of 2008 – and that Obama’s approach is bringing back jobs and growing the economy.
“We’ve made real progress these last four years,” Obama told some 14,000 backers huddled together on a chilly, blustery day outside the New Hampshire statehouse in Concord.
Obama said his ideas – from the health care plan to new regulations on banks and other large institutions – have “worked for middle-class families.”
Romney and aides say joblessness remains high and economic growth remains slow on Obama’s watch.
“On Tuesday, Americans will have a clear choice between four more years of stagnation or four years of prosperity and opportunity,” said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. “With 23 million Americans struggling for work, incomes falling, and gas prices rising, President Obama’s failed policies have devastated the middle class.”
Clinton, who reminisced about his own experiences in New Hampshire, reminded the crowd that Obama inherited a near-depression when he took office in 2009.
“Compared to what could have happened, Barack Obama has done a good job,” Clinton said. “With a tough hand, he has done a good job.”
The former president tangled with Obama during the 2008 Democratic primaries in which the future president defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in a hard-fought contest.
This year, Bill Clinton will wind up doing nearly three dozen events for Obama by the time Election Day rolls around on Tuesday.
In his New Hampshire speech, Obama revived one of his major issues from the 2008 campaign: change. The president said he has been an agent of change on items ranging from health care, education and energy to winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and authorizing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Romney and other Republicans, he said, want to return to the old “status quo.”
After Concord, Obama planned to travel to other battleground states that are likely to decide his battle with Romney: Florida, Ohio and Colorado.
On Monday, the last 24 hours before Election Day itself, Obama hits Ohio again, as well as Wisconsin and Iowa.
The president will spend Monday night at his home in Chicago; his plans for Election Day itself are not yet known.
Along the way, aides said, Obama will continue to get updates on storm recovery in New York, New Jersey, and other parts of the northeast, a topic he also mentioned during the New Hampshire speech.
“The President has been regularly engaged with his team on recovery efforts in the wake of hurricane Sandy,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.