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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Obama Makes Last-Minute Appeal for Early Voters in Ohio


COLUMBUS, Ohio - On the last day of “golden week” here - so named because it is the week in which you can register to vote and then vote at the same time and place - President Obama descended on the Ohio State University campus to urge his faithful to head to the polls. Now.

Some 20 tour buses lined up outside the campus, waiting to shuttle students and other Democrats to early voter polling stations before they closed at 9 p.m. Will.I.Am. yelled “Four! More! Years!” while mixing tunes (he butchered Bruce Springsteen's “Born in the U.S.A.” with improvised lines including “I want my Mac made in the U.S.A.”) for the assembled crowd beforehand, then promised to do it some more later in the evening if people showed up at various county offices to punch their ballots. Democratic campaign aides hustled among the 15,000 people gathered in the fall sunshine as they exhorted people to go vote - not on Nov. 6, but no w.

With the president's lead dwindling after a dismal showing in last week's presidential debate, the Obama campaign is doing all it can to get voters in this crucial swing state, with its 18 electoral votes, to the polls while they are still leaning his way. Especially now that his Republican rival, Mitt Romney - who is campaigning all week in Ohio - is putting a renewed effort on winning the state, there was no way that Mr. Obama wasn't going to stop here one more time this week before heading home after a West Coast fund-raising swing.

“Buckeyes, I've got a question, are you registered to vote?” the president yelled at the crowd.

“Grab your friends, grab everybody in your dorm, grab your fraternity or sorority, join Will.I.Am 'cause he's going to be at an early vote location, and you can register and vote at the same time,” Mr. Obama said to cheers. “Don't delay. Go vote today.” Someone yelled the usual “I love you,” and Mr. Obama responded, “I love you back, but I need you voting.”

As he had for the last six days, Mr. Obama continued to throw the punches at Mr. Romney that he didn't throw last week during the debate in Denver. He derided Mr. Romney's threat to stop funding for PBS programming like “Sesame Street” (Mr. Romney specifically singled out Big Bird.)

“Elmo's making a run for the border, Oscar's hiding in a trash can,” Mr. Obama said, striking a theme he and his campaign have repeatedly hit in recent days. “Romney's letting up on regulation on Wall Street but he's gonna go after ‘Sesame Street.' ”

The president's aides have been increasingly worried about a possible Romney bounce after last Wednesday's debate, when Mr. Obama, many Democrats acknowledge, gave a lackluster performance. Mr. Obama will be holing up in Williamsburg, Va., for four days starting Saturday to prep for next Tuesday's debate, when, aides say, he will presumably try to transfer the aggressive way he has gone after Mr. Romney at rallies like the one at Ohio State before a few thousand people to a nationally televised audience that may reach more than 60 million.

But on Tuesday night, it was all about voting - now, a point the president's surrogates emphasized.

“All of you have either already voted or you're about to vote, you're about to register to vote, you're going to change this election, you're going to change this country for the next four years,” Senator Sherrod Brown, sounding manic, yelled at the crowd as he warmed them up for Mr. Obama.

The president, for his part, wound up his speech with a simple “Let's go vote!” Brooks and Dunn's “Only in America” blasted from the stereos â€" as it always does - while the president worked the rope line. And, across the campus, the tour buses revved up their engines and ferried their loads of people to the county offices to register.