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Romney casts himself as uniter, Obama as divider

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — On the heels of a new poll showing him struggling to make inroads in Ohio, Mitt Romney stumped in New Hampshire, Iowa and here in Colorado on Saturday, telling tens of thousands of voters in the battleground states that four more years of President Obama would generate more of the partisan gridlock that has slowed the nation's economic recovery and hurt the jobs market.

Seizing on Mr. Obama's suggestion this week that voters exact "revenge" by voting against Mr. Romney come Election Day, the Republican presidential nominee said the remark is emblematic of Mr. Obama's first term in office.

"He is asking his supporters to vote for revenge," Mr. Romney said at a campaign stop at a jet hanger here." I am asking you to vote for love of country."

Speaking at a campaign stop in Ohio on Friday, Mr .Obama told voters not to boo at the mention of Mr. Romney's name, but to "vote." "No, no, no. Don't boo. Vote," Obama said. "Vote. Voting is the best revenge."

The remarks offered Mr. Romney another opening to hammer home his campaign theme that he has a proven track record of reaching across the political aisle to carve out solutions to the thorniest of public issues — and Mr. Obama does not.

During the three-state swing, Mr. Romney warned that a second Obama term would generate more partisanship and set into motion a repeat of last year's showdown over the nation's borrowing limit, which put Congress on the brink of defaulting on the nation's debt.

"You know the debt ceiling is going to come up again and there'll be threats of shutting down the government or perhaps default of one kind of another," Mr. Romney said in New Hampshire. "And that means an economy that gets chilled and jobs that are harder to find. The president just can't work with Congress. He's proven that time and time again."

This year's compromise debt deal, which Mr. Romney's running mate Rep. Paul Ryan supported, allowed the nation to raise its borrowing limit to avoid defaulting, but the deal is set to trigger an automatic $500 billion in defense cuts.

Mr. Romney has been training his political fire on the stump at the automatic cuts, known as "sequesters."

Responding to Mr. Romney's remarks Saturday, Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith said the GOP standard-bearer will say anything to get elected. Ms. Smith also said the the bipartisan image Mr. Romney is pushing on the campaign trail is bogus and the policies he is pushing are the same ones that got the nation into the "economic mess in the first place."

"Mitt Romney can't be trusted to work across the aisle as president because he's never done it before," she said. "Despite his claims in the final days of this race, Romney refused to work with Democrats as governor."

Mr. Romney's three-state swing comes to a close later today with two stops in Colorado, and coincides with a new NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll that shows Mr. Obama sitting atop a six-point lead over Mr. Romney in Ohio.

That could spell trouble for Mr. Romney. No Republican has ever carved out a path to the White House without Ohio.

A Rasmussen Reports poll, meanwhile, showed the race is tied in Ohio and the latest Real Politics average of polls shows Mr. Obama up by nearly 3 points.

Without Ohio, Mr. Romney's path to victory — assuming he captures North Carolina — could hinge in large part on the outcome of the race in the three states he visited Saturday.

By most counts, there are two alternative ways for Mr. Romney to win without capturing the Buckeye State. In short, he would need to combine victories in Colorado, Florida and Virginia with either a win in Pennsylvania or a win in Wisconsin coupled with a victory in either Iowa or New Hampshire.

Kevin Madden, a top Romney adviser, said the campaign is confident that his boss will pull out Ohio, but that a loss there would not mark the end of Mr. Romney's presidential dreams.

"We believe we can and will win Ohio, but because of our position right now where we are playing offense and the Obama campaign is providing defense we have a number of different paths to the 270 [electoral votes] that the governor needs to get elected," Mr. Madden said. "I think that is where we feel most optimistic. We can go to states like Pennsylvania, and states like Wisconsin and Iowa, where they won big in 2008, but now they are defending."

Mr. Romney started his morning with an airport rally in New Hampshire and has two more events in Colorado penciled end before the end of the day.

With just three days before the election, it has become clear during the stretch run of the campaign that Mr. Romney is intent on spending the rest of the campaign trying to appeal to independent voters with a bipartisan message.

Speaking at the Portsmouth International Airport in New Hampshire, Mr. Romney continued to make the case that he worked with Democrats in Massachusetts to balance the budget, lower the unemployment rate and increase take-home pay, and will do the same thing in Washington.

"This is a time to come together as a people," Mr. Romney said. "We have had some long days and some very short nights and the door to opportunity is open and we are going to talk though it. Come walk with me, walk together to a better place."

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