The president challenged Romney’s effort to seize the banner of change.
“Now, Governor Romney, he’s a very gifted salesman. So he’s been trying in this campaign, as hard as he can, to repackage these ideas that didn’t work, the very same policies that did not work, and he’s trying to pretend that they’re change,” Obama said. “Now, the thing is, we know what change looks like, and what he’s selling ain’t it.”
These final pitches are always a tricky balance between inspiring the base to put their hearts into the last few days and winning over the few voters who are still making up their minds.
Along with his talk of putting political differences aside, the Republican challenger also unleashed a sharply partisan attack, warning that reelecting Obama would lead to another showdown in Congress next year over the debt ceiling, followed by a possible government shutdown and default on debts. Democrats insist that Republicans are the ones guilty of intransigence on those issues.
Obama, for his part, blasted Romney on Friday for using “scare” tactics in claiming that U.S. car companies are moving jobs to China. He accused Romney of frightening Americans with false claims of job losses “just to scare up some votes.”
In Hilliard, Ohio, about 12 miles northwest of Columbus, Obama made his first extended remarks about a Romney TV commercial in wide circulation in the state. The ad, which says that General Motors and Chrysler are expanding in China, may leave some Ohioans with the impression that U.S. jobs, including at Toledo-based Jeep, are moving there.
Democrats have attacked the ad as untrue, and independent analysts, including The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, have criticized it as misleading. Chrysler announced a year ago it would add 1,100 jobs at its Toledo plant.
Obama told a crowd of 2,800 at the Franklin County Fairgrounds that the ad has prompted workers at the Jeep plant to call their employer to ask if they will lose their jobs.
“The reason they’re making the calls is because Governor Romney is running an ad that says so. Except it’s not true,” Obama said. “The car companies themselves have told Governor Romney to knock it off. GM said we think creating jobs in the United States should be a source of bipartisan pride. I could not agree more.”
Despite the criticism the ad has received, which has included condemnation by auto company executives, Romney aides say it is accurate and provides important context on an issue Obama has run on for months.
Romney kicked off the final leg of the campaign in Wisconsin, a state that has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984. Its 10 electoral votes now are central to both campaigns’ calculations.
Romney hopes the deep ground organization that Republican Gov. Scott Walker built in Wisconsin earlier this year to fend off a recall effort — as well as his selection of Ryan, a native of Janesville, southwest of Milwaukee, as his running mate — will pay dividends at the polls Tuesday.
Along with his high-altitude themes, Romney also pointed to tangible problems, such as rising gasoline prices, that he has calculated could help him pry away suburban voters who may be leaning toward Obama.
Noting that gas costs roughly twice what it did in 2008, Romney said that “we’re going to change course on energy — and I know just how much energy means to middle-class families.” Romney said he would open more federal lands to oil drilling, approve construction of the Keystone pipeline and loosen governmentregulations on coal development — a proposal he thinks might give him a lift in the coal regions of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
David Nakamura, traveling with Obama, and William Branigin and Alice Crites in Washington contributed to this report.