In the aftermath of the damage from East Coast storm Sandy, Obama talks about his attention to the recovery effort, pointing to it as an example of American unity, "no matter how tough times are, we're all in this together."
But at every stop, as he has for months, Obama aims to draw bright lines with Romney and set up the campaign as a choice. He defends his record and warns that Romney would take the nation back to the policies of the Bush administration and the crumbling economy that marked its final days.
The choice message is everywhere, right down to the light blue posters declaring, "Forward!" The alternative, Obama reasons, is going backwards — a fitting message for a community like Springfield, which was once featured in a 1983 Newsweek issue entitled, "The American Dream," marking the magazine's 50th anniversary.
Obama guards against being cast as the status quo, belittling Romney as nothing more than a "salesman" who is trying to make the change argument with "the very same policies that failed our country so badly."
In Ohio, where one in eight is employed by the auto industry, he rails against Romney for suggesting automakers Chrysler and General Motors were adding jobs in China at the expense of workers here. He lumps Romney in with Republicans, charging his opponents with hoping Obama's faithful will "just give up, just walk away, and leave them to make the decisions. They're betting on cynicism. Ohio, I'm betting on you."
The tough talk is often laced with humor. Following a disastrous first debate in Denver, he ridiculed Romney's plan to cut the deficit, saying his opponent would only commit to ending the federal subsidy to PBS, the equivalent of getting tough on Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Elmo. "Oscar is hiding out in his trashcan," Obama joked later.
During a rally in northern Virginia, Obama said his rival had caught "Romnesia," causing him to forget past positions on issues.
Jokes aside, Obama regularly casts his presidency as the result of a movement, a coming together of a diverse group of voters who wanted change. The message is full of self-empowerment, with the president telling voters a second term rests upon their shoulders.
"We've come too far to grow fainthearted," Obama says. "Now is the time to keep pushing."
In a few days, he will know the outcome.
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