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Monday, November 5, 2012

Campaign Diary: Candidates Spending Final Day in Swing States

9:33 a.m. - A Day of Flybys for Romney

SANFORD, Fla. - Less than 24 hours before the polls open, Mitt Romney has entered the drive-through portion of his campaign.

He spent the last year traveling to voters, crisscrossing the country and dropping into small towns and rural communities.

But on the final day, they came to him.

Three of Mr. Romney's five rallies are veritable flybys, held in airport hangars so Mr. Romney can land, jog down the steps of his private plane to the blaring thrum of Kid Rock's “Born Free,” and then begin taxiing to the next city nearly as soon as he has shaken the last hand and kissed the last baby.

When Mr. Romney's plane touched down here after an 18-hour day (four events in four states) just before 1 a.m. Monday, his aides had already begun setting up for the day's rally. A “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose” sign greeted the plane, and an empty hangar waited lighted and ready for the voters who would fil e in just hours later.

So, what do voters think, heading to an auxiliary airport hangar to glimpse the man who they hope will be the next president?

“It's a convenient venue for him to come into and land,” Greg Baker, 65, of Sorrento, Fla., said with a shrug. “And rallies are rallies.”

â€" Ashley Parker

President Obama walks to his limousine as he arrives in Madison, Wis., just before  3 a.m. Monday.Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama walks to his limousine as he arrives in Madison, Wis., just before 3 a.m. Monday.

8:36 a.m. - Obama Begins 3-Day Swing in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. - President Obama began his last day of campaigning here in a state that almost every Democratic model for an Obama vi ctory assumes will be in his column. But with Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin on the Republican ticket, the president is taking no chances.

After this weekend's marathon crisscrossing of every swing state, Mr. Obama's schedule on Monday looked almost tame by comparison. Even so, he was to hit three states before heading to sweet home Chicago for the night.

After the rally planned for Monday morning in this college town, Mr. Obama will return one last time to the swing state of all swing states for a rally in Columbus, Ohio. The president has been holding on to a small lead in the polls in Ohio, and his campaign aides believe that if he wins the state, he will win the election. Unless, that is, Mr. Romney manages to sweep all the other swing states, or turn a blue state - Mr. Romney planted a flag in Pennsylvania on Sunday - red.

After Ohio, Michelle Obama will join her husband for one last rally where the two like to insist it all started - Des Moi nes. Mr. Obama's victory in the Iowa caucuses in 2008 catapulted his candidacy from also-ran to front-runner in the Democratic primaries, and the Obamas talk often about how much they loved tromping around in the snow in Iowa and hanging out with butter cows and whatnot at the Iowa State Fair.

In recent days, the president has been joined onstage by Democratic bigwigs. His new BFF, former President Bill Clinton, was with him on Sunday in New Hampshire, and Mr. Clinton will be on the road for him again on Monday in Pennsylvania, lest that state get its head turned by its new suitor, Mr. Romney.

In Florida, with its crucial Latino vote, Mr. Obama also got a lift on Sunday from Pitbull, a Cuban-American hip-hop artist.

But that is nothing compared to the firepower coming out for the president on Monday. The Obama campaign is hauling out its biggest weapon for dragging blue-collar white voters to the polls: Bruce Springsteen.

He is joining Mr. Obama at al l three stops on Monday-Madison, Columbus and Des Moines. And lest anyone forget the African-American vote, Jay-Z will also be joining the president in Columbus.

And in Des Moines, Mrs. Obama will be onstage with her husband, to talk about the good old days.

Then the president and the first lady will head back to their hometown, Chicago, where they are planning to spend Election Day.

â€" Helene Cooper