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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Romney Makes Appeal to Undecided Voters

Mr. Romney, accompanied by his wife, Ann, started Saturday by speaking to supporters at a rally in Portsmouth, N.H.Stephen Crowley/The New York Times Mr. Romney, accompanied by his wife, Ann, started Saturday by speaking to supporters at a rally in Portsmouth, N.H.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - With just 72 hours before the polls open here, Mitt Romney kicked off his busiest day of the general election so far, racing through four events in three states as he made his final appeal to voters.

His message: A Romney administration offers the reality of the hope, change and across-the-aisle bipartisanship that President Obama promised four years ago and then failed to deliver.

“I've watched over the last few months as our campaign has gone from a start to a movement,” Mr. Romney said. “It's not just the size of the crowds. It's the conviction and compassion in the hearts of the people.”

The lessons he picked up as governor of Massachusetts, working with a largely Democratic legislature, he added, would serve him well in the White House.

“I learned that respect and good will goes a long way, and it's likely to be reciprocated,” he said. “That's how I would conduct myself as president. I won't just represent one party. I will represent one nation.”

Mr. Romney also made an explicit appeal to undecided voters, urging his supporters to “spend some time in the next three days to see neighbors and maybe ones with an Obama sign in front of their home and just go by and say, ‘Look, let's talk this through a bit.'”

“Because you see, President Obama came into office with so many promises and he's fallen so fall short,” Mr. Romney said. “And just rem ind them of some of the things that they may have forgotten. He said he was going to be the post-partisan president, but he's been the most partisan, dividing and demonizing.”

Mr. Romney was joined on his campaign plane by nearly his entire top team, a close-knit coterie of senior advisers, many of whom have been with him since his days in the Massachusetts Statehouse. Their mood was both upbeat and nostalgic.

Boarding the plane in New Hampshire to head onto Iowa, they posed for a quick group picture on the tarmac - a photo that, depending on the outcome of Election Day, could be either a glimpse into a future White House, or a keepsake for old friends of a campaign that didn't quite go their way.

Mr. Romney's wife, Ann, made a brief trip back to the press cabin to pass out pumpkin whoopee pies. Though she remained determinedly on-message and positive, talking about the people who are “really, really hurting,” her face and demeanor belied a weariness. (Mrs. Romney, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was seen limping off the campaign plane Friday night, though aides said it was not a flare-up like the one she had during the primaries and that she was merely “exhausted.”)

“Three more days,” she said, echoing what has become a refrain on the campaign trail, as voters chant how many more days are left until, they hope, Mr. Romney becomes the president-elect. “It's been long. It's been a long road.”

On the stump, Mr. Romney offered a series of aggressive lines against Mr. Obama, criticizing the president for remarks he made in Ohio on Friday when he told his supporters that “voting is the best revenge.”

“Vote for revenge?” Mr. Romney asked, rhetorically. “Let me tell you what I'd like to tell you: Vote for love of country.”

Referring to the three presidential debates, largely credited with helping him pull closer to Mr. Obama in the polls, Mr. Romney presented what he said was a stark contest between himself and the president.

“He says it has to be this way. I say it can't stay this way,” Mr. Romney said. “He's offering excuses. I'm offering a plan. I can't wait to get started. He wants to convince you to settle. But Americans don't settle. We dream, we aspire, we reach for greater things.”

He ended his speech, as he has been doing recently, with another call to unity.

“Come walk with me,” Mr. Romney urged. “Walk together to a better place. We've got to take back this country.”

Follow Ashley Parker on Twitter at @AshleyRParker.