Obama spends final campaign day in Midwest

President Barack Obama is flanked on stage by musicians Jay-Z, left, and Bruce Springsteen Monday at a campaign event at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Enlarge photo

Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

President Barack Obama is flanked on stage by musicians Jay-Z, left, and Bruce Springsteen Monday at a campaign event at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

MADISON, Wis. – It’s the last day for Barack Obama, campaigner.

The president is spending the final day of his re-election campaign – which he often describes as his last political race – in three Midwest states he believes can seal victory: Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa, the latter the state that launched his presidential drive four years ago.

“We have come too far to turn back now,” Obama told a crowd of 18,000 on a chilly morning in the shadow of the Wisconsin state Capitol. “Now is the time to keep pushing forward.”

From downtown Madison, where residents began gathering in the early morning hours to hear the president as well as musician Bruce Springsteen, Obama traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for a rally in the city’s hockey arena. That event featured both Springsteen, the New Jersey rocker known as “The Boss,’ as well as Brooklyn-bred rapper Jay-Z.

Noting that it’s “the last day I’ll ever campaign,” Obama told backers in Columbus that traveling with Springsteen is “not a bad way to bring it home ... with The Boss, with The Boss.”

Obama winds up Election Day eve in Des Moines, Iowa, where his victory in 2008 caucuses put him on the road to the White House.

Obama aides exuded confidence about Tuesday’s result, predicting a sweep of Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa as well as other battleground states, clearing the necessary 270 electoral votes to claim a second term.

“We see many paths to 270,” said Obama senior adviser David Axelrod. “All those pathways are intact today.”

Republican challenger Mitt Romney also campaigns Monday in Ohio as well as Florida, Virginia and New Hampshire.

While Wisconsin has been a Democratic state in recent presidential elections, Obama is trying to fend off a late charge by Romney and running mate Paul Ryan, a Badger State native.

Both sides see Ohio as a key state. Many Obama aides believe that victory in Ohio would be fatal to Romney’s candidacy; no Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio. The event at Nationwide Arena in Columbus will feature Springsteen, as well as musician Jay-Z.

The president then takes the sentimental journey to Iowa.

His 2008 win there over Democratic rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards established him as a formidable national candidate. He rode that momentum all the way to the White House, where he fashioned a record that will be put to the test on Tuesday.

First lady Michelle Obama will introduce her husband at the rally in the historic Des Moines commercial and residential area known as East Village.

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