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Published: Tuesday, 11/6/2012

Clinton stumps for Obama in Pa.

Romney to follow ex-president’s campaign trail in Pittsburgh

BY JAMES O’TOOLE
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

PITTSBURGH — Mitt Rom­ney would love to fol­low Bill Clin­ton’s path to the White House. At least un­til they start to count the votes to­night, he’ll have to con­tent him­self with fol­low­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent to Pitts­burgh.

As the hours be­fore Elec­tion Day ap­proached sin­gle dig­its, a years-long cam­paign ex­hausted it­self with fi­nal, pre­dict­able ads, swing state ap­pear­ances, and ex­hor­ta­tions to fi­nal get-out-the-vote ef­forts.

Mr. Clin­ton, who has emerged as the Obama cam­paign’s sur­ro­gate-in-chief since his tour de force ap­pear­ance at the Dem­o­crats’ con­ven­tion in Char­lotte, made the case for the Pres­i­dent’s re-elec­tion again on Mon­day at a rally in Pitts­burgh’s Mar­ket Square.

In an 11th-hour sched­ul­ing de­ci­sion, Mr. Rom­ney’s cam­paign an­nounced that the for­mer gov­er­nor would stop in the Pitts­burgh re­gion for a fi­nal pitch for the votes of a state that he had seemed re­signed to leave un­con­tested un­til the fi­nal days of the elec­tion.

But his cam­paign and its al­lies have made a late, ex­pen­sive bet on Penn­syl­va­nia with heavy spend­ing and hours of Mr. Rom­ney’s in­creas­ingly pre­cious time.

He drew a re­ported crowd of 30,000 to a Bucks County farm Sun­day night and will make one of his fi­nal stops in west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia to­day. The Rom­ney cam­paign had not re­leased de­tails of the event early Mon­day eve­ning.

Pres­i­dent Obama and Mr. Rom­ney spent their fi­nal full day of cam­paign­ing in more fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, crisscross­ing the more es­tab­lished bat­tle­ground state that has been their fo­cus for months.

Both cam­paigned again Mon­day in piv­otal Ohio.

Mr. Obama courted vot­ers in Wis­con­sin and was sched­uled to end the last day of his fi­nal cam­paign in Iowa, the state that opened his road to the White House with his stun­ning cau­cus night vic­tory over Sen. Hil­lary Clin­ton, now his sec­re­tary of state, in 2008.

Re­cent poll­ing has found the in­cum­bent with nar­row leads in each of those states, in­clud­ing Ohio.

Mr. Rom­ney cam­paigned up and down the east­ern sea­board with stops in Vir­ginia and Flor­ida, and also Ohio, be­fore a late-night rally in New Hamp­shire.

While all of those states fig­ure in most sce­nar­ios of how he would reach a 270-vote Elec­toral Col­lege ma­jor­ity, Flor­ida is the only one in which he ap­peared to hold a nar­row poll­ing ad­van­tage. 

His cam­paign an­nounced late Mon­day that he would make Elec­tion Day stops in Cleve­land as well as Pitts­burgh.

Un­til re­cent days, spec­u­la­tion on the Re­pub­li­can’s path­ways to vic­tory have not in­cluded Penn­syl­va­nia. Dem­o­crats pointed out that he has yet to lead or tie in any pu­bic poll of the state over the last year.

But Re­pub­li­cans found seeds for op­ti­mism in re­cent pub­lic polls that showed a nar­row­ing of Mr. Obama’s lead in a state that’s eluded GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees since Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush’s win here in 1988.

De­siree Peter­kin Bell, an Obama com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser, greeted the news of Mr. Rom­ney’s planned last-minute foray into the state with a state­ment pre­dict­ing that he would join the list of Re­pub­li­cans re­buffed by Penn­syl­va­nia.

“Mitt Rom­ney rec­og­nizes that Ohio has moved away from him, and with­out it he has no plau­si­ble path to 270 elec­toral votes. A few days of cam­paign­ing and an av­a­lanche of spe­cial in­ter­est-funded neg­a­tive TV ads will not save Rom­ney from his pol­i­cies of the past that crashed the econ­omy and pun­ished the mid­dle class,” she said.

But Mr. Clin­ton’s ap­pear­ance in Pitts­burgh, the first of four get-out-the-vote ral­lies across the state Mon­day, showed that the Dem­o­crats were tak­ing no chances.

Mr. Clin­ton was barn­storm­ing the state, head­ing from the Mar­ket Square event to a list of Eastern Penn­syl­va­nia stops that would end in the Pal­estra, the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia’s sto­ried bas­ket­ball arena in West Phil­a­del­phia.

His voice be­tray­ing the toll of his heavy cam­paign sched­ule, Mr. Clin­ton told the crowd, “To me the elec­tion is fairly sim­ple. Who is more likely to re­store the mid­dle class and give peo­ple a chance to work their way into it, to build a 21st cen­tury econ­omy with the good jobs of to­mor­row? … I think it’s the can­di­date who got off the cam­paign trail and got to work on Hur­ri­cane Sandy” with Re­pub­li­cans and Dem­o­crats alike.

“I want a can­di­date who saved the Amer­i­can auto in­dus­try,” he said, be­fore re­new­ing his crit­i­cism of a con­tro­ver­sial Rom­ney ad that sug­gested Chrysler planned to in­crease Jeep pro­duc­tion in China at the ex­pense of Ohio.

“You can­not have a pres­i­dent who will de­lib­er­ately mis­rep­resent the truth to the work­ing peo­ple of Amer­ica and scare them just to get a few votes,” he said.

After his late ap­pear­ance in Des Moines, the Pres­i­dent planned to head home to Chi­cago. His Elec­tion Day cam­paign­ing would con­sist chiefly of a se­ries of in­ter­views with ra­dio and tele­vi­sion out­lets in swing-state mar­kets.

From his last-minute stops in Pitts­burgh and Cleve­land, Mr. Rom­ney planned to head back to Boston, await­ing the re­turns in the state he had gov­erned.

The Block News Al­liance con­sists of The Blade and the Pitts­burgh Post-Ga­zette. James O’Toole is pol­i­tics ed­i­tor at the Post-Ga­zette.

Con­tact James O’Toole at:

jo­toole@post-ga­zette.com,

or 412-263-1562.

Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette    November 5, 2012  news  clinton    Former U.S. President works the crowd in Market Square after exhorting the crowd to get out and vote to give President Barrack Obama another four years, November 5, 2012. NOT A BLADE PHOTO Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette November 5, 2012 news clinton Former U.S. President works the crowd in Market Square after exhorting the crowd to get out and vote to give President Barrack Obama another four years, November 5, 2012. NOT A BLADE PHOTO
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