Republican challenger Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama dueled over jobs, the economy and the nation's future Friday as the taut presidential campaign headed into a final, frantic weekend.
Speaking to thousands of supporters gathered at State Fair Park, Romney portrayed Obama as a president who hasn't lived up to his promises and said, "The question of this election comes down to this: Do you want more of the same or do you want real change?"
At three campaign stops in the battleground state of Ohio, Obama touted his record on helping Chrysler and GM recover from economic peril. He also criticized Romney's campaign for running an advertisement that implied Chrysler was poised to ship jobs to China to build Jeeps.
Obama told an audience in Hilliard, "I understand that Gov. Romney has had a tough time here in Ohio because he was against saving the auto industry. And it's hard to run away from that position when you're on videotape saying the words, 'Let Detroit go bankrupt.' "
The campaigning was set against the backdrop of Friday's jobs report, the last before the election. The October report showed the nation gained 171,000 jobs but the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9%.
"He said he was going to lower the unemployment rate down to 5.2%," Romney said. "Right now, today we learned that it is actually 7.9% and that's 9 million jobs short of what he promised. Unemployment is higher today than when Barack Obama took office."
Obama countered that the nation was on the right economic course.
"In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," Obama said. "And today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs; and this morning, we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months."
Wisconsin will play a central role as the campaign reaches a close and the candidates try to build winning coalitions to reach the 270-electoral vote mark.
Obama, who opened the final leg of his campaign Thursday in Ashwaubenon, will appear with pop singer Katy Perry on Saturday afternoon at a rally at the Delta Center in Milwaukee. On Monday morning, he will be at an outdoor rally with rock star Bruce Springsteen in downtown Madison.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, the congressman from Janesville, will return to the state Monday night, with a rally at Sterling Aviation at Mitchell International Airport.
"We want to make sure we lock it in and it's definitely in our column," Obama surrogate Robert Gibbs said of Wisconsin on CBS.
Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, whipped up the Republican faithful in West Allis when he declared: "Are you guys ready to hire Mitt Romney, fire Barack Obama and save America? Are you ready to win?"
Inside the Products Pavilion at State Fair Park, the crowd listened to a who's-who of state Republicans, including Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, congressmen Reid Ribble and Tom Petri and former Gov. Tommy Thompson. They also roared when Green Bay Packers all-time great Bart Starr endorsed Romney, who delivered what was billed as a closing argument in a speech titled "Real Change From Day One."
"What a great state, what a great welcome. This state is going to help me
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