Last-minute stops as Romney ends White House quest

KASIE HUNT STEVE PEOPLES Associated Press Published:

BOSTON (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's years-long quest for the presidency is ending with a last-minute round of campaigning in one state he's showered with attention and another he's largely ignored.

After he cast his vote near his Boston-area home, Romney was visiting Cleveland and Pittsburgh on Tuesday, betting an eleventh-hour appeal to working-class voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania will help him defeat President Barack Obama.

His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, is following a similar strategy, using his travel time after voting in his Wisconsin hometown to join Romney in Cleveland and then visit Richmond, Va. The campaign isn't ruling out additional swing-state appearances as well. Tuesday night, he'll await returns with Romney in Boston.

Romney told reporters he was feeling "very good" as he and his wife, Ann, appeared at a polling precinct near his Belmont, Mass., home just before 9 a.m. EST.

Romney spent less than three minutes completing his ballot in the voting booth, which did not have a curtain. Asked who he voted for, he said with a smile, "I think you know." It was the first time he had answered a direct question from the traveling press corps since late September.

"Help us win this," the former governor said Monday, in the midst of a five-state slog that was supposed to be his last day on the campaign trail.

Romney's focus on Ohio is not a surprise. He has spent more time campaigning there over the last year than any other state. And no Republican has won the presidency without carrying the Midwestern battleground.

But Romney has spent very little time in Pennsylvania, a state that hasn't supported a Republican presidential contender in nearly a quarter-century. As polls showed the race tightening there, Romney launched a statewide advertising campaign just last week.

Dismissed as desperation by Democrats, the Pennsylvania trip will at the very least send a message that Romney did all he could to deny Obama a second term.

"We can't let up now. We need to keep going until the final polls close tomorrow night," Romney political director Rich Beeson wrote supporters Monday. "With an election this important, let's leave it all on the field."

A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that non-college-educated white voters across the nation supported Romney over Obama 57 percent to 35 percent. But in Ohio, polls taken in late October suggested Romney was virtually tied with Obama among the group.

Romney needs to do better facing Obama's small, but stubborn, lead in polls in both states. His path is complicated, in part, by his opposition to the government bailout that helped rescue the nation's auto industry.

Romney is scheduled to wrap up his day in Boston, where his national headquarters is based, for an election-night celebration at the Boston Convention Center.

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Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.