“I do not believe this is a moment when our big dreams will be satisfied with a small agenda,” Romney said. After a presidential election season that has centered so much on the negative and the trivial, he said, he was laying out a path that would “lead America to a better place.”
Obama “says it has to be this way; I say it can’t be this way. He’s offering excuses; I’ve got a plan. He’s hoping we’ll settle; I can’t wait for us to get started,” Romney told a crowd of 4,000 roaring supporters. “Americans don’t settle. We build, we aspire, we listen to that voice inside us that says, ‘We can do better.’ A better job. A better life for our kids. A bigger, better country.”
At the second of his three Ohio rallies Friday, Obama delivered a fervent version of his own closing argument to a similar number of supporters at a high school gym in Springfield. He pledged to work with Republicans in Congress in a second term but acknowledged there would still be some “struggles and fights.”
“I’m a very nice guy, people will tell you. I really am,” Obama said. But if “the price of peace in Washington” means cutting deals to slash student financial aid or give health-insurance companies more power, “I’m not going to make that deal,” he added. “That’s a price I’m not willing to pay.”
Turning up the volume as the crowd responded, Obama insisted: “That’s not bipartisanship. That’s not change. That’s surrender to the status quo.” And he pledged, “I am a long ways away from giving up on this fight. I got a lot of fight left in me. I don’t get tired. I don’t grow weary. I hope you aren’t tired either, Ohio.”
Romney’s 28-minute speech earlier in the day was described by advisers as the message he will deliver to voters as he barnstorms the battleground states this weekend. It was portrayed as having more loft than the speech Romney gave in accepting his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in August.
The speech that political professionals call the closing argument is always a tricky balance aimed at inspiring the base to put their hearts into the last few days, but also at winning over the few voters who are still making up their minds.
“I will lead America to a better place, where confidence in the future is assured, not questioned,” Romney said. “This is not a time for America to settle. We’re four days away from a fresh start, four days away from the first day of a new beginning.”
But the Republican challenger also unleashed a sharply partisan attack, warning in the same speech that reelecting Obama would lead to another showdown in Congress next year over the debt ceiling, followed by a possible government shutdown and default on debts.