DUBUQUE, Iowa – Faced with storm duty as well as last-minute politicking, President Barack Obama crossed the Midwest on Saturday, telling crowds that his economic ideas are working, while Mitt Romney would return the nation to recession.
From northern Ohio to Wisconsin to Iowa, Obama said his health-care plan, stimulus policies and financial regulations echo those of Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton and led to the boom economy of 1990s.
Romney’s proposals, including new tax cuts benefiting the wealthy, are a return to those that wrecked the economy during the George W. Bush years, leading to the 2008 economic collapse, Obama said.
“We know our ideas work,” Obama told a crowd of some 20,000 at a convention center in Milwaukee. “And we know that their ideas don’t work.”
At an open air park in Dubuque, as temperatures fell along with the setting sun, a hoarse-sounding Obama told about 5,000 backers: “We’ve come too far to turn back now.”
Obama began his campaign day at Mentor High School near Cleveland in the key state of Ohio. After the stops in Milwaukee and Dubuque, the president wrapped up with a late night event in Virginia that included an appearance by Clinton, who agreed that Obama’s economic policies mirror his.
Also sounding raspy, Clinton joked: “I have given my voice in the service of my president.”
ROMNEY: GOP nominee kicks off final push where campaign began. Polls give Obama slight leads over Romney in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, though Romney aides say they are closing the gaps. The Virginia race is considered quite close.
Election Day is Tuesday.
Romney and aides say Obama’s “big government” policies are creating the slowest recovery in decades, including an unemployment rate near 8 percent. Romney spokesman Ryan Williams also cited a comment Obama made Friday in Ohio, telling backers that “voting is the best revenge.”
Williams said: “With no record to run on and no vision for the future, President Obama is resorting to false, discredited attacks and a cynical closing message urging voters to choose ‘revenge.’ Mitt Romney wants to bring people together and he wants Americans to vote for love of country.”
Acknowledging that many people are still hurting, Obama told supporters in Mentor: “We’ve got more work to do – our fight goes on.”
He also said Romney is having a “hard time” in Ohio because of his opposition to the Obama administration’s auto bailout. As he did Friday, Obama criticized Romney for an ad suggesting that Chrysler plans to move Jeep jobs out of Toledo, calling it false and desperate.
Before starting his campaign day, the president conducted a Hurricane Sandy meeting of aides at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The visit included a conference call with officials in northeast states hard hit by the storm, including Govs. Chris Christie, R-N.J.; Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y.; and Daniel Malloy, D-Conn.
“We still have a long way to go,” Obama said after the FEMA briefing, though he added that everyone is making a “120 percent” effort.
“We don’t have patience for bureaucracy,” Obama told reporters. “We don’t have patience for red tape.”
The president said officials are working on the five most pressing tasks: Getting assets in to restore power; pumping out water from flooding, making sure people’s needs are being taken care of; removing debris; and getting the National Guard in place.
On the flight between Milwaukee and Dubuque, Obama called Christie as well as New York’s two senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, about continuing power shortages in their states.
“In each call, the President expressed his concern about ongoing power restoration efforts as well as the fuel challenges facing many impacted areas throughout the region,” said a White House statement. “The President made clear that his team remained focused on continuing to mobilize all available resources to support state and local partners, and that he had directed them to continue to identify and remove any barriers that could slow the deployment of important assets.”
Obama also gave five radio interviews, four with stations based in Ohio: two in Columbus and one each in Cleveland and Cincinnati. The other interview was a syndicated radio show.