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Monday, November 5, 2012

Romney Returns to Where He Started

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Mitt Romney will conclude his last day of campaigning before Election Day in the same place he started his presidential bid 16 months ago in the Granite State.

The Romney campaign said that Mr. Romney would return to New Hampshire late Monday night to hold a rally here at the Verizon Wireless Arena, a final effort to buoy support in a critical swing state.

Most polls show President Obama leading in the state by a few percentage points, but Mr. Romney had hoped his proximity to the state, as a former governor of Massachusetts who owns a vacation house near Lake Winnipesaukee, would help him capture the state's four electoral votes.

On Sunday, Mr. Obama made his seventh trip to New Hampshire this year to speak to a crowd of more than 14,000 outside the Capitol in Concord. “You know, the folks at the very top in this country, they don't need a champion in Washington,” he told the crowd. “They'll always h ave a seat at the table.”

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have rolled out their top surrogates across the state and have enlisted legions of volunteers to canvass and host get-out-the-vote efforts. In the battle for signs, the Romney-Ryan ticket dominated Granite Avenue, a main stretch in downtown Manchester.

Hours before Mr. Romney's visit here, two of his sons, Tagg and Ben, traveled throughout the state visiting Romney “Victory” offices and encouraging voters to get to the polls. Kid Rock will perform at Mr. Romney¹s rally Tuesday night. Republicans have organized a presumed victory party at Jillian's Billboards in Manchester for Tuesday night.

At Mr. Obama's rally on Sunday, former President Bill Clinton introduced the president. “Would you rather see Kid Rock or the Comeback Kid,” asked Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire, a Democrat. Mr. Lynch was referring to the 1992 New Hampshire Democratic primary, when Mr. Clinton came in second behind Paul Tsongas. His memorable speech in Dover, N.H. (“I'll always be with you, until the last dog dies,” Mr. Clinton told the crowd) cemented his comeback.

In 2008 Mr. Obama also narrowly lost the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, to Hillary Clinton, after he told her in the final debate before the primary, “You're likable enough, Hillary.”

In the general election that year, Mr. Obama soundly defeated Senator John McCain of Arizona, 54 percent to 45 percent.

New Hampshire has disproportionately high voter turnout. Local officials have predicted that 722,000, or 70 percent of New Hampshire's eligible voters, will cast a ballot on Tuesday.

Karen Ladd, New Hampshire's assistant secretary of state, has told voters to prepare to wait in lengthy lines and to present photo identification, a new regulation that some officials worry could hinder voter participation. Voters who do not have a photo ID can opt to fill out an affidavit before they can pick up a ballot.

New Hampshire will be the first state to begin voting, a quirky tradition that local campaign volunteers like to brag about. Polls open at 12:01 a.m. in Dixville and Hart's Location, two tiny northern New Hampshire towns with a population of 41 and 12 residents, respectively, according to the 2010 United States census.