Romney, Obama converge on Iowa in late scramble for votes

Sat Nov 3, 2012 7:35pm EDT
 
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By Patricia Zengerle and Matt Spetalnick

DUBUQUE, Iowa (Reuters) - The U.S. presidential race, which has hinged for months on a handful of states, converged on one city in Iowa on Saturday as President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each made a last-minute appeal for support before Tuesday's election.

With the race in a dead heat nationally, both candidates touched down briefly in Dubuque, a Mississippi River city of 58,000 people, as they sprinted across the country in a bid to secure any possible advantage before Election Day.

In an airport rally early in the afternoon, Romney urged supporters to try to sway friends and neighbors who back Obama. He said he would reach out to Democrats as well if elected - a stance that could appeal to independent voters who have little stomach for partisan gridlock.

"I want you to reach across the street to the neighbor, who has that other sign in his front yard. And I'm going to reach across the aisle in Washington, D.C., to the politicians who are working for the other candidate," Romney told about 2,000 people.

Six hours later, Obama reminded about 5,000 people in a park in downtown Dubuque that he had started his first presidential bid in Iowa in 2007, and highlighted successes of his time in office, such as ending the war in Iraq and expanding access to healthcare.

"After two years of campaigning and after four years as president, you know me by now. You may not agree with every decision I made, you may have sometimes been frustrated with the pace of change. But you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say," Obama said.

Earlier in the day in Ohio, Obama hammered Romney for opposing his bailout of the auto industry and said his challenger tried to scare workers by saying inaccurately that Chrysler planned to shift jobs to China.

About one in eight Ohio jobs is tied to auto manufacturing, and the bailout has helped Obama win over some of the white-working class voters who are heavily backing Romney in rest of the country.   Continued...

 
U.S. President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One after arriving at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport in Ohio, November 3, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing