His voice is raspy now, comforted backstage with sips of hot tea. But the familiar lean into the microphones is more pronounced. In Mentor, Ohio, Saturday, when he cried out "We've come too far to turn back now," his right arm stretched behind him as if to point to a departed place.
Later, at a Milwaukee rally with a boisterous crowd of more than 10,000, he drew attention, as he often does, to his graying hair and suggested that Romney is an unknown quantity.
"Now Wisconsin, after four years as president you know me. You know me. You've watched me age before your eyes."
Among those traveling with him in this last push is longtime Chicago friend Marty Nesbitt.
"I've never seen him more exhilarated than he is right now," Axelrod said.
"He is very cognizant of the fact that this is his last campaign. This is the closing argument of his last campaign," he said. "He knows he's never going to do this again."