Obama rallies supporters at Nationwide Arena in Columbus

President Barack Obama talks today with World War II veteran Harkless Hutchings, 95, at  Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus as he arrives for a campaign stop in Columbus.
President Barack Obama talks today with World War II veteran Harkless Hutchings, 95, at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus as he arrives for a campaign stop in Columbus.

COLUMBUS -- Obamacare. The killing of Osama bin Laden. The auto bailout. Twenty-five consecutive months of job growth. The end of the war in Iraq.

A rally today before an estimated 15,500 inside Nationwide Arena served as President Barack Obama's last chance to list the reasons why he believes Ohio and the nation as a whole should give him four more years to complete a job that he admits is far from done.

"When you make this choice, you have to remember this isn't just about policies,” he said. “It's also about trust. After four years you know me by now. You may not agree with every single decision I've made. That's okay because Michelle doesn't either.

“You may be frustrated sometimes at the pace of change I promised you. So am I,” Mr. Obama said. “But Ohio, you know that I mean what I say and I say what I mean.”

A short time later Republican opponent Mitt Romney would make his case a few miles away that Mr. Obama has failed to deliver on the “hope and change” promised in 2008, presiding over four years of high unemployment, a sluggish economic recovery, and partisan gridlock  with Congress.

“(Mitt Romney) will deliver real change for a real recovery, creating 12 million new jobs with rising take-home pay and a better future for all Americans,” said Romney spokesman Chris Maloney.

Mr. Obama's rally with rocker Bruce Springsteen and rapper Jay-Z as his opening acts was as much about closing the deal with the few remaining voters who haven't made up their minds as making sure that those who support the Democratic incumbent actually vote. It marked the President's 22nd visit to the critical battleground state this year.

Brad Johnson, a financial planner from nearby Grandview Heights, is one of those last-minute undecided voters. He said he hasn't gotten the information he needs from the flood of TV ads directed at him and probably won't make a final decision until Tuesday morning.

He heard Mr. Romney speak about a month ago, and today he went to Nationwide Arena to give Mr. Obama a chance to seal the deal--as well as to listen to The Boss.

“I really wanted to hear their final closing arguments, because I feel they'll probably put the best information across in the last few days — much less general talking points and more direct...,” ” he said. “I'm fiscally very conservative, and I really want to make sure that he says he's going to cut spending.”

With a pair of new polls still showing the race a statistical tie, the candidates have left little to chance, crisscrossing between battleground states but always coming back to all-important Ohio. Mr. Obama has been here every day for the last four days while Mr. Romney has been here three of the last four days, counting his rally tonight in Columbus.

On election eve, Mr. Obama hit Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa, a block of states and a combined 38 electoral votes that he carried in 2008 and hopes will serve as a firewall against Mr. Romney reaching the 270 needed to win the race even if he should pick up North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida.

The President again made the case of casting Mr. Romney in the Bush-era throwback of pursuing tax cuts for wealthier Americans.

“I've got the scars to prove it,” he said “I've got gray hair to prove it. You've had my back in that fight, and after all we've been through, we can't give up on it now. We've got more work to do.”

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.