ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan flew into Richmond to try to fuel what polls suggest is a Republican rally, while a hoarse and tired former President Bill Clinton became a rousing proxy for President Barack Obama in two swing-state Virginia events.
The busiest Saturday of presidential campaigning ever in Virginia headed to a rock 'n' roll crescendo with a Democratic rally in northern Virginia where Clinton, U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine and Virginia rocker Dave Matthews were to join Obama.
In Richmond, hundreds who gathered at a private jet service hangar at Richmond International Airport chanted "three more days" as Ryan accused Obama of "appealing to our lowest fears."
Ryan's most recent visit to battleground Virginia consisted of a brief rally Saturday at an airport hangar, his chartered jet just outside the open door. Hundreds chanted "three more days" — the time left until Election Day.
Ryan said that Republican Mitt Romney's experience in business and government makes him best suited to handle the country's economic problems.
The Republican ticket has concentrated heavily on Virginia to help flip a state that Democrats won four years ago. Romney was due back in the area on Sunday and again on Monday.
Ryan accused Obama of waging a campaign based on small things and not the big problems facing the country. "Now, he's appealing to our lowest fears," Ryan said.
He said Obama hasn't delivered on his pledge to change the culture in Washington.
"In 2008, President Obama made lots of grandiose promises. Remember hope and change? Remember how he'd bring people together?" Ryan asked.
Ryan appeared with Virginia's Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Senate candidate George Allen and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
In Roanoke, Clinton addressed a standing-room-only crowd of 2,500 people who packed a high school gym for a dinner-hour rally Saturday, calling Obama "a good and faithful commander-in-chief" who has done far more for the economy than Republicans will acknowledge.
Clinton, who presided over a robust economy and produced four budget surpluses, said no president — himself included — could have repaired the damage Obama's Republican predecessor did to the economy.
"We put Republicans in because they told us, essentially, you could eat candy for the rest of our lives and never go to the dentist," Clinton told the Roanoke crowd.
Six hours earlier, before several hundred people at a rally in Chesapeake, the hoarse and weary Clinton praised Obama's handling of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated New Jersey and New York, including Clinton's home in Chappaqua, N.Y. He also said Obama had been an ally to the military that dominates an area that is home to the world's largest U.S. Navy base in nearby Norfolk.
"Here in this area, it needs to be said over and over again. He has been a fine commander in chief," Clinton said to loud applause. "He ended the war in Iraq."
Clinton ridiculed Romney's tax plan and said that Obama is the only one who has a budget proposal that adds up. He also praised Obama's health care overhaul and said that reforms included in it would allow companies to keep their health care costs down and allow them to give employees raises.
Curt Cashour, a Romney campaign spokesman in Virginia, said Clinton was trying to mask Obama's failures.
"With no record to run on and no vision for the future, the Obama campaign is resorting to false, discredited attacks and a cynical closing message urging voters to choose 'revenge,'" Cashour said.
Polls show Romney and Obama locked in a toss-up race for the 13 electoral votes that Virginia last awarded to Obama in 2008. The state is one of a handful of undecideds that will determine which candidate wins Tuesday's election.
Until 2008, Republicans had won 10 consecutive presidential races in Virginia. Democrats generally conceded the state along with the rest of the South to the GOP, and it was an afterthought in presidential politics. Now, not a day passes without a major presence by the Obama or Romney campaigns.
Saturday's final campaign appearance, in Prince William County about 35 miles west of the White House, was scheduled to begin at 10:35 p.m.
A little more than a month ago, Obama had a clear lead over Romney in Virginia, but it has shrunk since Obama's lethargic performance in the first of their three presidential debates.
Still, some Republicans are on edge.
"It's still going to be too close to call. I'm hoping obviously that Romney and Ryan win because he's just driving the country into ruin, Obama is," said Rick Qualy, a retired Army sergeant major who lives in Chester. "If Obama wins there's not much we can do but put up with it — and go out and buy another gun and maybe a couple thousand rounds of ammo because that'll be outlawed soon too."
Brock Vergakis, reporting from Chesapeake, Va., and Brian Bakst, reporting in Richmond, contributed to this report.