Romney Breaks With Tradition on Final Day

By: From CNN
By: From CNN
Mitt Romney says tonight he

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan in Fishersville, Va., Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. / AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) -- Not long before polls closed, Mitt Romney said he's so confident of a win that he prepared only one speech -- a 1,118-word victory address.

"I've only written one speech at this point," Romney told reporters on his plane.

He said he was "very proud" of the campaign, adding that "no campaign is perfect." The campaign didn't slow down on Election Day. Romney embarked on a last-minute push for votes in Ohio and Pennsylvania instead of spending the day in his hometown, as is traditional for candidates.

The two Election Day campaign stops, which were added to the schedule Monday afternoon, capped a campaign season of upheaval, unconventional moves and late-in-the-game surges that make Tuesday's outcome difficult to predict. Romney woke up at home in Belmont, Massachusetts, on Tuesday and voted at his local polling place with his wife, Ann.

Then, the campaign charter took off for the heavily contested stretch of middle America known as the Rust Belt. The GOP presidential nominee made two quick, informal stops in Cleveland and Pittsburgh to thank volunteers and help with get-out-the-vote efforts.

Romney and running mate Paul Ryan stopped for a quick lunch at a Wendy's restaurant in Cleveland. Surrounded by cameras, Romney ordered a regular quarter-pound burger without cheese, baked potato with chili while Ryan settled for a No. 1 with iced tea (sweet).

"We figured because Wendy's was invented in Ohio there's no better place to get lunch than at Wendy's, right?" Romney said in a phone call to the restaurant's supervisor, which was caught on camera.

Romney has spent time in Ohio almost every day this week, and his campaign says a rising tide of momentum has put Pennsylvania in play for the White House hopeful.

But top advisers, almost all of whom were traveling with the candidate as the race came to a close, were immediately confronted with questions about whether the decision to campaign on Election Day signaled an unease with the state of the race.

A senior Romney adviser also told reporters that campaigning on Election Day was the new normal. Both Obama and Sen. John McCain made stops on voting day in 2008, as did George W. Bush and John Kerry in 2004.

Though polls in Ohio have tightened considerably over the last month, President Obama has maintained a stubborn lead there. Romney officials point out Obama's leads are often within polls' margins of error.

Romney's internal campaign polling showed Obama leading Ohio by five points on Sunday, the final day the campaign polled the state, two GOP sources told CNN. On Election Day eve, Romney sought to portray victory as Tuesday's likely outcome, and cited the enthusiastic audiences who greeted him in four states as proof.

"If anyone out there that's following American politics wants to know where the energy is, just come right here in this room and you'll see it," he told a crowd of 8,500 in Fairfax, Virginia. "I am looking around to see if we have the Beatles here or something to have brought you but it looks like you came just for the campaign, and I appreciate it."

A senior Romney adviser said Election Day campaigning would "keep the energy going" until the polls closed. The idea is that the campaign is "just going to keep working up until the polls close," the same Romney adviser said.

Romney aides tried to reassure Republican opinion makers in Washington during conference calls on Tuesday, one participant confirmed to CNN. They also said the campaign spent more than Obama's during the last week.

Romney spent the final days of the campaign making a mad dash through four battleground states. After starting the day in Florida, Romney flew to Virginia for rallies in Lynchburg, Richmond, and Fairfax, before the stop in Columbus, Ohio.

After that, he finished his schedule in Manchester, New Hampshire, where Kid Rock performed, then on to Belmont.


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