Electing Mitt Romney would be a return to policies that have failed in the past and “crashed our economy,’’ President Obama told a full house crowd of 13,500 at the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena Sunday night.
The highly charged-up crowd, that was entertained before and after the president’s speech by legendary recording artist Stevie Wonder, roared its approval when Obama appealed to them to help him win the election that takes place on Tuesday and appears now to be too close to call.
“I do what I say,’’ said Obama, in a voice raspy from a day of campaigning from New Hampshire to Florida to Ohio. “You know where I stand. And you know I will always stand up for you and your families every single day.”
Twice at the beginning of his 20-minute speech, Obama was interrupted by hecklers, one of whom waved an anti-abortion sign. Both were hustled out of the arena by police.
“Never mind that,’’ Obama said to the crowd, which was booing the protesters.
He ridiculed his opponent, Mitt Romney, for running a campaign where the GOP nominee says he represents change.
“He is a very good salesman,’’ Obama said of Romney. “He has repackaged all of those old ideas that have failed.”
The wealthiest Americans, Obama said, “don’t need another champion in Washington. The people whose letters I read every night in the White House need a champion.”
And those people, Obama said, are from working families who face financial challenges, joblessness and concerns over health care.
And, he said, he plans to win this election and continue the work.
“We’ve come too far to turn back now,’’ Obama said. “We’ve come too far to let our hearts grow faint.”
About 2,000 Obama supporters who wouldn’t fit into the arena watched on a video board from a practice basketball court in Shoemaker Center.
Demetrius Silver, 22, of Roselawn, said he would vote on election day for President Obama.
“I’m here because Barack Obama has brought us so far; and we are not going to turn back now,’’ Silver said.
Four years ago, on the Sunday night before the election, then-senator Obama filled UC’s football stadium, Nippert Stadium, with 27,000 supporters in what was his largest southwest Ohio event of the campaign.
Two days later, Obama went on to win Hamilton County by a nearly 30,000 vote margin over GOP nominee John McCain – a key component in the fact that Obama won Ohio’s electoral votes.
The Buckeye State had 20 electoral votes to offer then; it is down to 18 now because of the 2010 U.S. Census, which cost Ohio two congressional districts.
But those 18 electoral votes may be the most fiercely fought over block of electoral votes in this election, with both sides spending record amounts of money on TV advertising and sophisticated, micro-targeted get-out-the-vote efforts.
It was a long day of campaigning through four key swing states for President Obama – a day that started with a rally in Concord, New Hampshire; with former president Bill Clinton; a rally in Hollywood, Florida, followed by the trip to Cincinnati and UC’s Fifth Third Arena.
After the UC visit, Obama went on to Aurora, Colorado, for a night rally where rocker Dave Matthews was to play an acoustic set prior to the president’s speech.
The president has a rally Monday afternoon at Columbus’ Nationwide Arena that will feature an appearance by rock legend Bruce Springsteen.
Earlier Sunday, Romney was at the I/X Center near Cleveland’s Hopkins Airport for a rally that drew about 6,000 supporters. In Cleveland, Romney criticized Obama for his “focus on Obamacare” and lack of “focus on unemployment.”
Romney’s principal Ohio surrogate, Rob Portman, appeared on CNN’s State of the Union show Sunday where he hammered at Obama over job creation.
“In fact, unemployment is higher today than it was when President Obama was sworn in and the real number is even worse, because, as you know, a lot of people have left the workplace,’’ Portman said.
Sunday night, the Obama campaign was touting a CNN report that said public polls in Ohio showed Obama leading Romney among early voters with 63 percent to 35 percent.