LIVE BLOG: Final Weekend Sprint of Election 2012
With less than 72 hours now until the polls open on Election Day, President Obama and Mitt Romney are crisscrossing the nation, hosting rallies in at least seven battleground states. From Ohio - a lot of Ohio - to Florida and all the way up to New Hampshire, the candidates will make one final play to sway the undecideds and, perhaps more importantly, inspire their own supporters to cast a ballot Tuesday.
And it's not just the president and Romney. First Lady Michelle Obama, Ann Romney, the vice presidential candidates and a flurry of surrogates are fanned out across the nation, fighting for every last vote.
Tune in to ABCNews.com on Tuesday, Nov. 6 for livestreaming coverage of Election 2012. Our Election Day show kicks off at noon, and the Election Night event begins at 7 p.m.
The Romney campaign kicked off their final push with a 20,000-strong rally last night in West Chester, Ohio. Among those in attendance: "Republican Party's last presidential nominee John McCain, GOP stars like Marco Rubio and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as well as two former GOP rivals, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry."
We'll keep you informed throughout the weekend with real-time updates from ABC News reporters in the field. Also: tweet us, send an email; questions, comments, your deepest thoughts on these final days before Americans decide if President Obama gets a four-year extension on his lease at 1600 Penn. Ave or Mitt Romney sends him house-hunting, it's all welcome here.
10:16 p.m. ET - How Will Romney Win? Campaign Advisers Argue 'Voter Intensity' -
ABC's David Muir reports:
With three days to go until the election, the Romney campaign is arguing enthusiasm among Republican voters and the Romney ground game will lead them to victory on Election Day.
When asked about Ohio, Romney campaign political director Rich Beeson argued Romney's strength among independent voters will help Romney win Ohio despite public polling that shows President Obama holding onto a slim, but stubborn lead in the Buckeye State.
Beeson said in recent weeks the Romney campaign has been knocking on more doors per week in Ohio than John McCain's team did during their entire campaign. Beeson also cited the campaigns own internal polling showing greater 'voter intensity,' among Republican voters, particularly in Ohio, than there is among Democrats.
The Romney campaign argues the move to spend money and time in Pennsylvania in the waning days of the campaign is based on momentum in that state and is not a last-minute effort to expand the map.
10:33 p.m. ET - Paul Ryan Says 'Florida is Everything' - ABC's Shush Walshe reports: Paul Ryan wrapped up a marathon four-stop, five-state day at an outdoor rally at the Panama City marina acknowledging to the crowd that "Florida is everything."
"Mitt Romney and I can handle whatever they are going to throw at us for the next three days, but this country cannot handle another four more years of this administration. We are asking for your help, we are asking for your support," Ryan said to a crowd of about 2,000 people. "Florida is key, you know that. Florida is everything."
As the hours tick down to Tuesday, Ryan even a adopted a habit of his running mate's: guessing supporters' ages on the trail. This evening as a gorgeous sun set on St. Andrews Bay, it was a small child who got the attention as Ryan was talking about the "moral obligation" of getting the national debt down for a younger generation.
9:02 p.m. ET - Obama Campaign Trumpets Massive Ground Game - ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from Milwaukee:
With just 60 hours until voters begin heading to the polls, the Obama campaign is heralding the mobilization of a massive battleground organizing operation - unprecedented in size and scope - that it says will be a decisive factor in the outcome on Nov. 6.
It is a "ground game unlike any that American politics has ever seen and much bigger than we did in 2008," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters on an evening conference call.
"Our get-out-the-vote effort - built over years and running at full speed today - is the reason President Obama will be re-elected to a second term," said Obama national field director Jeremy Bird.
In a memo detailing the operation, the Obama campaign says it has more than 5,000 get-out-the-vote "staging centers" (or, "hyper-local Obama campaign hubs") going online across the battlegrounds this weekend and coordinating volunteers for more nearly 700,000 canvassing shifts.
Aides said the campaign's biggest advantage over Republicans was in registrations: 1.7 million voters this cycle - twice as many as it did during the 2008 campaign.
8:24 p.m. ET - Say Mitt Romney Wins; Who Would Be in his Cabinet? - From ABC's Michael Falcone, Emily Friedman and Jonathan Karl:
We don't know if Mitt Romney is going to be elected president, but we do have some ideas about who some of his top aides and cabinet secretaries might be if he does win. Here are some ideas based on ABC News reporting, beltway buzz and outside reports on who might be major players in a Romney administration. Romney has already enlisted the help of several key advisers to begin planning for a potential transition to the White House. Members of that team include:
Former Utah governor Mike Leavitt Former Missouri senator Jim Talent Romney campaign adviser Beth Myers Romney campaign Chairman Bob White Ron Kaufman, RNC National Committeeman, former White House political director Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School Al Hubbard, former director of the National Economic Council Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank
"White House senior adviser David Plouffe and Romney campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie discuss the final days of the 2012 presidential contest, including a look at the new numbers from the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, this Sunday on a special election edition of 'This Week.'
…Later, the 'This Week' powerhouse roundtable gives its final take before Election Day, including their own predictions, with ABC News' George Will, Cokie Roberts, Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, and Ronald Brownstein of National Journal."
6:46 p.m. ET - Biden, Crowd Get Testy Over Low Audio Levels
More from Arlette Saenz, who is traveling with the vice president:
"The crowd got very testy with how low the audio level was at Biden's event in a gymnasium in Pueblo, Colorado, today. Different members of the audience kept shouting at the VP to speak louder. The first time, Biden raised his voice from his soft whisper-like tone to a more forceful and loud level.
But the second time, when someone told him to speak up, Biden said, 'I wish to hell they'd turn this mic up!'
Biden then added, 'I'm going to hear a press report: Biden screams at the audience.'"
6:35 p.m. ET - Ann Romney Chokes Up At Sight of Colorado Crowd
Emily Friedman reports: "The crowd gathered at an airport hangar at the first of two stops in Colorado for Mitt and Ann Romney had the potential next First Lady close to tears.
'That was quite a welcome,' Mrs. Romney said, after climbing off her husband's campaign plane and walking through a sea of supporters and up onto the stage, a live camera following the couple as they were swarmed by voters on their way in.
'That is amazing, to walk in and have this kind of emotion come to us,' she said, her voice cracking as she appeared to hold back tears. 'It makes me believe we can win Colorado!'"
5:46 p.m. ET - Will Ferrell Will Do Anything to Get You to Vote
In a new web video posted by the Obama campaign today, comedian Will Ferrell rattles of a list of things he's willing to do to get "you" to vote.
With light jazz playing in the background, the comedian, wearing a red dinner jacket, offers to punch himself in the face, cook you dinner (angel hair pasta), help move a couch, and eat anything you tell him to (hair, underpants, etc.) if only you'll promise to cast a ballot Nov. 6.
Devin Dwyer saw it live in Milwaukee, Wisc.:
What does multi-platinum singer Katy Perry have in common with President Obama (besides an affinity for the slogan 'Forward')?
She prefers, apparently, to take the stage with a teleprompter.
Note the small screen at her feet rolling the lyrics as the band plays the tune. Not exactly like this is the first time she's sung any of these songs…
Elizabeth Hartfield reports: "…the most plausible at this point according to current polling in the states, Obama carries Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, while Romney carries Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa.
This is the only scenario that includes Obama carrying Ohio that could result in a tie. In general, if Obama is able to carry this state, the map becomes much easier for Democrats. Polling has shown Obama with a slight lead in Ohio, Wisconsin and New Hampshire recently, and Florida and North Carolina appear to be moving in Romney's favor. However, polling has also shown Iowa leaning for Obama."
3:55 p.m. ET - Ralph Nader to Moderate 'Third Party' Candidates' Debate
AP: The former Green Party nominee for president will be the moderator when the Green Party's current candidate, Jill Stein, faces off with the Justice Party's Rocky Anderson during their debate on Sunday.
3:38 p.m. ET - Ryan Makes Late Push for Comeback Win in Pennsylvania
Shushannah Walshe was at Ryan's event in Middletown and writes:
"The Romney campaign says they are expanding the map and states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota are now in play for the GOP ticket, but polls still show the president ahead. Although they have tightened in recent weeks, they still show a 3 to 5 point lead for Barack Obama.
Ryan was introduced here by a trio of former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, Sen. Pat Toomey, and Gov. Tom Corbett, who were greeted with huge cheers by a crowd of about 2,000 when they walked out at this airplane hangar rally at Harrisburg airport. They all predicted this state, which the president won by ten points in 2008 would flip.
"Can I just tell you how red Pennsylvania's gonna be on Tuesday?," Toomey, wearing red jacket, said. "Because I know how red it's gonna, it's gonna be this red, okay [points to red jacket]. This is the color of Pennsylvania on Tuesday."
More on Ryan's visit to Pennsylvania HERE .
3:17 p.m. ET - More Controversy for Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin?
The National Journal is reporting that Rep. Todd Akin was arrested "at least eight times" in the 1980s for trespassing and disturbance of the peace at anti-abortion protests at health clinics in Missouri.
From today's story:
"Critics hope Akin's record bolsters Democrats' contention that his actions and beliefs, in addition to his statements, make him unacceptably extreme for most Missouri voters. While Akin noted he was arrested in a 'peaceful protest,' People for the American Way has worked to document Akin's ties to people in the anti-abortion movement who advocated violence against doctors who perform abortions."
Akin, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, first made headlines in August:
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin, who is running against Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, said in an interview on the "Jaco Report" on KTVI-TV. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
If you've been fast forwarding through most of the political ads, don't worry. Devin Dwyer has you covered. Here's his report on the Obama campaign's final ad buy. They're focusing on Virginia and Florida, two states where Romney is thought to have an ever-so-slight edge.
The Obama campaign on Friday placed its final ad buy of the 2012 election cycle, purchasing TV airtime in two Florida markets and four Virginia markets, a campaign official told ABC News. The milestone marks the conclusion of what has been a historic presidential campaign in terms of number of ads run and dollars spent by both sides.
"The Romney campaign has tried to claim for weeks that they'd be victorious in those states, but from everything we're seeing in the numbers and on the ground, we believe that they'll end up in the president's column on Tuesday night," the official said. Most polls in Florida and Virginia show the race tied or with Romney holding a slight edge.
His full report and what ads are playing where in Florida and Virginia is HERE .
"Not many hours are left until we close the chapter of the long, hard-fought 2012 presidential election and open the first chapter of the 2016 presidential primaries. Here's one prediction I am very confident in making: Those next primaries are likely to start within hours or days of Tuesday."
Matthew Dowd has MORE HERE on the post-Election Day political landscape.
Emily Friedman reports from Dubuque, Iowa: "At a campaign event in Dubuque this afternoon, Mitt Romney poked fun at Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's recent run in with a deer.
Last month Grassley tweeted that he had hit a deer on the highway, writing, 'After I pulled fender rubbing on tire we continued to farm. Assume deer dead."
Here today, Romney wanted an update.
'Senator Grassley have you hit any deer lately?' Romney asked shortly after taking the stage. 'Those of you watch his blog know that he bumped into a deer the other day and he said, unfortunately, it didn't make it, the deer didn't make it.'
'But was it delicious?' asked Romney, to roars of laughter.
No word back from Grassley."
Join ABC News and Google+ for Election Night Hangouts - let us know who you are HERE.
Jake Tapper reports: "In the intense closing hours of this hard fought campaign, with polls so tight in key battleground states, campaigns are looking for any edge, any opportunity to highlight an opponents' foibles.
Case in point: At Springfield High School in Ohio Friday, President Obama made a comment that his opponents have seized upon to paint him as divisive and negative.
Heralding the presidency of Bill Clinton, President Obama said "his economic plan asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we could continue to invest in our people, continue to invest in ideas and innovation, invest in our infrastructure. And at the time the Republican Congress and a Senate candidate by the name of Mitt Romney - "
The audience of around 2,800 booed.
'No, no, no - don't boo; vote!' the president said, as he does at nearly every rally. 'Vote!'
Then he added: 'Voting is the best revenge.'
In West Chester, Ohio, a few hours later, Mitt Romney asked a crowd of more than 20,000, 'Did you see what President Obama said today? He asked his supporters to vote for revenge. For revenge. Instead I ask the American people to vote for love of country.'
By Saturday morning, the Romney campaign had produced a TV ad with that same theme, titled ' Revenge or Love of Country?' and in Marietta, Ohio, Romney running mater Paul Ryan harped on the same theme to a crowd of roughly 1,000."
Emily Friedman has more: Romney's Whirlwind Day in New Hampshire: Urges Votes for Love Not Revenge
1:15 p.m. ET - Obama's Gay Marriage Stance Could Have Repercussions with Black Voters - There's little doubt that President Obama will do extremely well among African American voters, but his reelection could determine on how large the turnout is. Here is some of Pierre Thomas's Nightline report:
Aside from the economy, one issue has risen to the top of the most contentious issues among many blacks, and influential black clergy: gay marriage. Many in African-American church congregations are opposed to President Obama because he supports gay marriage.
"We are living in days of darkness," Pastor Michael Stevens of Charlotte, N.C. said in a new BET documentary. "To declare what the word of God says about male and female and man and woman and husband and wife, now I am the homophobic bigot."
Baltimore Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant is an Obama supporter who also appears in the film. He too opposes the president on the gay marriage issue. Bryant said he believes that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to share insurance and be able to leave their property to their partners in their wills. But marriage, he said, is reserved for a man and woman.
Bryant told "Nightline" there are some pastors in the African-American community who are telling their congregations either to stay home or vote the other way on Election Day, but it's a small minority. He said he still believes that African-Americans "are walking in lockstep" with the president.
12:38 p.m. ET - Paul Ryan Turns to 'Hope and Change' - Speaking in Marietta, Ohio, the Republican vice presidential candidate put a spin on President Obama's famous slogan:
"We believe in change and hope. We actually do," Ryan said. "In 2008 President Obama made all these lofty promises, it sounded so good. He said that we would have bi-partisanship, that he'd bridge the gap. He said he'd cut the deficit in half, that he'd get people working again, and he'd create jobs. You see all those jobs here in Marietta? Look, it sounded good and when he got elected people naturally expected him to deliver those results but it didn't happen and look what we got. Washington is more divided than it ever has been before. And the deficit, it doubled from what he said it would be."
Shushannah Walshe has more: Paul Ryan Begins Final Sprint: 'We Believe in Change and Hope'
Devin Dwyer reports: "Here in Wisconsin, Obama will be joined by multi-platinum singer Katy Perry, who appeared with the president at a midnight rally in Las Vegas last week wearing a white "ballot" dress. Later in Dubuque, Iowa, rocker John Mellencamp will perform, and actress Kate Walsh of ABC's "Private Practice" and "Grey's Anatomy" will address the crowd.
Dave Matthews will open for Obama at a late-night rally in Bristow, Va., where the president will also unite for the first time on the 2012 campaign trail with Bill Clinton."
"Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has formally denied a request from one of his Supervisors of Elections to extend early voting hours through Sunday.
His letter to Harry Sawyer - SOE in Monroe County (in the Florida Keys) - cites all the different opportunities Floridians have to vote and says the law doesn't allow him add early voting hours since no state of emergency exists.
Sawyer had written a short letter to Detzner requesting the extension because of the long lines at early polling places.
Gov. Rick Scott has also rejected requests to extend the early voting hours.
Here's the picture ABC producer Seni Tienabeso took during his nearly four hour wait on Friday:
"Citing national polls, local polls and battleground state polls, political pundits are fully equipped to predict who'll win the presidential election next week.
But there is another piece of analysis to consider: What do the stars say?
Turns out, it's not only political pundits who say the election is too close for comfort. The planets agree.
A survey on politicalastrologyblog.com, a non-partisan astrology blog dedicated to politics, shows 31 top astrologers' agreeing that President Obama's astrological chart favors his winning re-election, compared with 14 astrologists' concluding that Romney's chart shows he will win.
Three of the astrologers who looked at both men's charts have refused to predict a winner at all, calling the election 'too close to call.'
11:30 a.m. ET - Early voting in Florida ends at 7 P.M. today and, like yesterday, there are long lines at the polls. The shortest wait time listed on the Miami-Dade Co. supervisor of elections' website is two hours. The longest is more than five.
11:15 a.m. ET - ""That's it guys," Ann Romney said [during a visit with the press on the campaign plane today], turning to the pastry box, "It's pumpkin whoopie time!"
Mrs. Romney's baked treats and who taught her to throw a football - Hint: Not Mitt - in Emily Friedman's dispatch from New Hampshire.
11:00 a.m. ET - Getting us started are Amy Walter and Michael Falcone, who set the table with a weekend edition of The Note.
"OHIO, OHIO, OHIO: No matter how many ways you game out the Electoral College map, Ohio is really the linchpin to electoral success. Romney can win without Ohio, but only if he carries Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida. Obama can win without Ohio only if carries Virginia, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Nevada. Every airworthy poll taken in Ohio since mid-October has shown Obama in the lead anywhere from two to five points."