WEST CHESTER, Ohio — Mitt Romney on Friday kicked off his final sprint to Election Day, igniting the largest crowd of his presidential campaign with an appeal for Americans not to settle for the status quo of the last four years.
“The question of this election comes down to this: Do you want more of the same or do you want real change?” he told nearly 30,000 people here, who greeted the former Massachusetts governor with chants of “four more days.”
Many have questioned whether Romney could excite conservatives in the most crucial battleground states. With a crowd resembling that of a major sports event, those concerns were put to rest on this chilly night in a conservative bastion in the Buckeye State.
The late-night remarks were orchestrated as a sequel to Romney’s convention speech in Tampa, Fla, with a long list of GOP heavyweights speaking before Romney. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Arizona Sen. John McCain, House Speaker John Boehner, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, among others, served up a healthy dose of red meat to the Ohio audience.
But Romney struck a more measured tone with his closing argument against President Obama, saying that unlike the incumbent, he would foster bipartisan change.
“He promised to be a post-partisan president but he became the most partisan of our presidents,” Romney said. “Instead of bridging the divide, he’s made it wider.”
And Romney was quick to highlight Obama’s assertion in Ohio Friday that voting was the “best revenge.”
“He asked his supporters to vote for revenge,” Romney said. “Instead, I ask supporters to vote for love of country”
The GOP leaders who joined Romney on stage repeatedly hammered Obama over the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. However, Romney chose not to broach the topic, keeping his focus on Obama’s leadership and stewardship of the economy.
Still, Obama’s re-election team hit Romney for the fiery rhetoric of his GOP brethren.
“It’s a fitting end to Mitt Romney’s campaign, since he has kowtowed to the far-right wing of the Republican Party throughout the six years he’s been running for president, leaving little doubt that he’d rubberstamp the Tea Party agenda in the White House,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said.
Romney picked a good time and place to mobilize his largest crowd, as most expect Ohio to crown the presidential winner.
The Republican conceded as much on Friday.
“This is the one we have to win,” he said.