President Obama and Mitt Romney offered starkly contrasting visions of America during the long presidential campaign. Their differences are just as plain on Election Day, which Romney will spend hopscotching through three states, and Obama will pass on his home turf with family and friends. How else will their Tuesdays differ? Here, a guide to how the presidential candidates will fill the final hours before voters make their choice:
What is Romney doing on Election Day?
The GOP nominee started his day by doing his civic duty. He and his wife, Ann, cast their ballots Tuesday at 9 a.m. at a precinct near their home in Belmont, Mass. Though Romney said he felt "very good" about his odds, he's not taking any chances. After voting, Romney jetted off to woo working class voters at a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, the swing state many consider most likely to tip the Electoral College result. After that, Romney's off to Pittsburgh, in an effort to contest Obama in Pennsylvania, a state that hasn't backed a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. From there, Romney is scheduled to wrap up his day back in Boston, where his national headquarters are based, watching the returns and holding an election-night celebration at the Boston Convention Center.
What are commentators saying?
The bottom line is that, no matter who winds up with the edge in the popular vote, Obama appears better positioned in the swing states to "piece together the 270 electoral votes needed for victory," says The Associated Press. "So Romney decided to make a late dash to Cleveland and Pittsburgh" while his running mate, Paul Ryan, is making a final plea for votes in Cleveland and Richmond, Va. "If past elections are any guide, a small but significant percentage of voters won't decide which presidential candidate they're voting for until Tuesday." If Romney can win over just a few more of those fence-sitters than Obama, it could make all the difference, so he's going to keep pushing until it's all over.
What is Obama doing on Election Day?
Obama will spend the day in Chicago, after wrapping up his last campaign appearance on Monday night in Des Moines, Iowa, where he teared up at a rally attended by Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z. He won't be voting, though — the president and his wife, Michelle, cast their ballots early, 12 days ago. He began Tuesday by visiting with volunteers at a campaign office near his South Side Chicago home. The president will also participate in an Obama Election Day ritual, playing basketball with friends. Obama has only skipped the traditional hoops game one time, on the day of the 2008 New Hampshire primary, which he lost badly. "We made the mistake of not playing basketball once," said Obama advisor Robert Gibbs. "I can assure you we will not repeat that." The president won't be completely out of sight, though. He'll do a series of interviews, via satellite, with TV stations in battleground states. "The next time he appears on a stage," says Alex Mooney at CNN, "it will be to address supporters in a ballroom Tuesday night having either just secured four more years in the White House or having conceded the race to a President-elect Mitt Romney moments earlier."
What are commentators saying?
"While Mitt Romney spends election day as a candidate, stumping for votes in swing states," says Christi Parsons at the Los Angeles Times, "President Obama is reverting to an older role from his past — community organizer." Instead of firing up the troops in rallies, Obama got Election Day started "with an email that amounts to a field memo," telling his supporters: "Once you vote today, keep going. Get on the phone, get online — all day long, there will be something you can do to help." So, in a way, he's sticking to the game plan on Tuesday just like Romney is. When the history of this election is written, Obama's ground game will loom large, and he's going to keep it going to get out the vote right up to the moment when the last poll closes.