On a day of high-energy rallies, his campaign also announced a grand last-minute gesture. To rebut criticism that Obama has no agenda for a second term, his campaign plans to mail 3.5 million copies of what it calls the “Blueprint for America’s Future,” a repackaging of previously discussed ideas, to swing-state voters.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who had been the longtime underdog, signaled that he would finish the campaign as a calm, cautious front-runner. Advisers said he was unlikely to lay out new ideas. From his perspective, why would he?
Obama’s “campaign is slipping,” Romney told a crowd in this Las Vegas suburb, “and ours is gaining so much steam.”
Both men were, in a sense, bluffing — the polls are effectively tied. But each seemed to have settled on the role he would play in the campaign’s last frenetic days; both roles have previously served the candidates well. Romney, who was the front-runner through the GOP primaries, would again be the man destined to victory. Obama, who started in 2008 as a heavy underdog against Hillary Rodham Clinton, would try to reprise that image.
“We’ll know who’s bluffing in two weeks,” David Axelrod, a longtime Obama adviser, said in a conference call with reporters to discuss the state of the race. “I’m looking forward to it.”
A new Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll of likely voters showed Romney leading Obama by one point, 49 percent to 48 percent. The day before, the numbers were reversed, with Obama leading by the same thin margin.
On both days, the meaning was the same: The presidency will probably be decided by a small sliver of voters who may shift in the next two weeks.
Tuesday was the first day of that hyper-compressed campaign, with both candidates seemingly in every swing state at once.
In the morning, Obama was in Delray Beach, Fla., attacking what he said was Romney’s move to more moderate positions. He repeated his latest zinger, that his opponent suffers from “Romnesia.”
“We’re accustomed to seeing politicians change their positions from, like, four years ago,” Obama said. “We’re not accustomed to seeing a politician change their positions from four days ago.”
Behind the scenes, the president’s advisers argued that they hold advantages in the key states needed to win the electoral college vote. They cited figures indicating that early voting and turnout among young people and Latinos — crucial Obama constituencies — are outpacing the historic levels of 2008.
“We [would] win the election if it were held today,” said David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser. “In the battleground states, we think we’ve got many more pathways to 270 electoral votes.”
But Obama’s plaintive e-mail to supporters (“Please don’t wait any longer,” it said) and his massive mail-out of the “Blueprint” were strong signs of worry. In Monday’s debate, Romney renewed a long-standing criticism with the line “Attacking me is not an agenda.” Now, Obama’s campaign said, it would put an agenda in millions of people’s hands, with mailings and door-to-door canvassing. The plan can also be found online at www.barackobama.com/plans.