WHITE HOUSE - President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are beginning three days of almost round-the-clock campaigning before Tuesday’s presidential election. Most public opinion polls show the two candidates virtually tied.
Before starting a marathon of campaign appearances, President Obama began Saturday by tending to business.
The president visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, which is coordinating relief efforts in parts of the eastern United States that were hit by Hurricane Sandy.
Obama told top advisers, local officials and reporters he will make all federal resources, including the military, available to move relief supplies to the affected areas. He promised a “120 percent” effort by everyone involved.
“We do not have any patience for bureaucracy. We do not have any patience for red tape. And we want to make sure that we are figuring out a way to get to ‘yes’ as opposed to ‘no’ when it comes to these problems," he said.
Former Massachusetts governor Romney made the day’s first campaign stop, in the northeastern city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
He criticized the president for telling crowds not to boo him, but to get their “revenge” by voting.
“The president said something you may have heard by now, that I think surprised a lot of people. Speaking to an audience, he said, you know, ‘Voting is the best revenge.’ He told his supporters, voting for revenge. Vote for revenge? Let me tell you what I would like to tell you, vote for love of country," he said.
New Hampshire is the smallest of the so-called swing states, where the election is likely to be decided. But with polls showing the race virtually deadlocked, neither candidate is taking New Hampshire for granted, and both had rallies scheduled there this weekend.
Romney’s Saturday itinerary also included stops in the midwestern state of Iowa and the western state of Colorado.
Obama began a long day of campaigning in Ohio, where he visited on Friday and will return again on Sunday.
In the city of Mentor, the Democratic president sharply criticized his Republican opponent, saying he is not able to deliver the change he is promising.
“We know what change looks like. And what he is offering ain’t it. You know, giving more power to the biggest banks, that is not change. Another five trillion-dollar tax cut favoring the wealthy, that is not change," he said.
Surveys show the president holding a small lead in Ohio, a state both parties desperately want to win. No Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio, and an Obama victory there would make it very difficult for Romney to win nationwide. After Ohio, Obama would also campaign Saturday in Wisconsin and Iowa, finishing with a late-night rally in Virginia.
Perhaps as a coincidence, the city of Dubuque, Iowa would see visits by both candidates during the course of the day.