FAIRFAX, Va. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney added Election Day campaign stops in Ohio and Pennsylvania as he spent today warning voters of another recession if Democratic President Barack Obama is re-elected.
"The same course we're on isn't going to lead to a better destination. The same course we're on is going to lead to $20 billion in debt," Romney told a cheering crowd of more than 8,000 people at George Mason University's Patriot Center arena. "Unless we change course, we also may be looking at another recession."
Romney was rallying voters across four swing states and urging them to vote Tuesday.
"Look, we have one job left, and that's to make sure that on Election Day, we make certain that everybody that's qualified to vote gets out to vote," Romney told the thousands gathered inside an airplane hangar at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida at the first of his five campaign rallies. "We need every single vote in Florida."
Supporters in the Florida crowd waved signs that said "Vote for love of country," a response to President Barack Obama's instruction to supporters that voting is the "best revenge." A second stop in Lynchburg, Va., featured an enormous "Get Out and Vote" banner.
The Florida rally would have been the beginning of Romney's last and longest day of campaigning, a sprint through Florida, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire, from morning until a late-night rally in Manchester that originally was billed as his last hurrah. But in the afternoon, Romney's team announced a last-minute Election Day push that will take him to Cleveland and Pittsburgh for get-out-the-vote efforts before he returns to Boston to await the outcome.
Ohio is critical battleground that Romney has visited again and again — but one where polls show a race with Obama that's stubbornly close. Romney all but ignored Pennsylvania until the final week of the campaign, as Republicans poured millions onto previously empty airwaves in a bid to expand the map.
The Election Day campaign events mimic Obama, who campaigned in Indiana on Election Day in 2008. He ultimately won the state, which typically backed Republicans for president. A spokeswoman said Obama would not campaign Tuesday, but would remain in Chicago and reach out to swing-state voters through a series of television and radio interviews.
But while Indiana's 11 electoral college votes were a nice addition to Obama's 365-vote Electoral College landslide, Romney has been banking on Ohio to carry him over the finish line in what's been a fluid but close-fought contest. Without Ohio, Romney has to win nearly every other battleground state to defeat Obama. Adding Pennsylvania would change the calculus, but Democrats say they remain confident they'll win a state that's backed their party's presidential candidates since 1988.
"Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow," Romney said in Florida, his voice a bit hoarse as he spoke using a teleprompter to prevent mistakes borne of weariness. By the time he lands in New Hampshire, Romney will have covered more than 15,000 miles in four days, stopping in Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, Florida and New Hampshire. Monday's five rallies are the most Romney has held in a single day during the general election campaign.
He covered tens of thousands of miles in the 523 days since he announced his second presidential bid in New Hampshire on June 2, 2011. All told, he's been running for president for nearly six years.
If Romney wins, he would become the nation's 45th president, and spend the fall and winter preparing to move into the White House and take over the executive branch of the government. There would be Cabinet secretaries to select, news conferences to hold, intelligence briefings to attend. The pack of cameras that has surrounded Romney almost daily since he announced would still greet him nearly every morning.
"Forty five! Forty five!" chanted several people in the Florida audience.
But if he loses, all the trappings of the campaign — his charter airplane, the entourage of besuited Secret Service agents, the siren-filled motorcades down highways closed just for him — will disappear.
Supporters seem to know they're watching history. On the rope line after his Florida event, a man presented Romney with a bag of pins from his father George Romney's 1968 bid for president.
Romney is already further along; his father lost the Republican nomination, and Richard Nixon went on to be elected president.
The son hopes for a different outcome. "We can begin a better tomorrow, tomorrow," he said.