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Campaigns sprint through swing states on election’s last day

DENVER — President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each spent the final day before Election Day sprinting across the swing states that are most critical to their chances of winning 270 electoral votes and the race for the White House.

For the president, the odds-on favorite to eke out a second term, that meant defending states like Wisconsin, where Obama rallied a huge crowd in Madison along with rocker Bruce Springsteen, a long-time Democratic stronghold that’s suddenly become a battleground.

Everywhere he went, Obama’s message aimed right at the middle class.

“We’ve always prospered when everybody gets a fair shot, when everybody’s doing their fair share, when everybody’s playing by the same rules,” the president said. “That’s what we believe. That is why you elected me in 2008 and that is why I’m running for a second term.”

President Obama with Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen after a rally in Columbus, Ohio Monday.

The Obama campaign also dispatched former President Bill Clinton to Pennsylvania for four rallies Monday in another state long thought to be a safe blue state.

Instead of looking to run up the score in the final hours of the campaign, as Obama did four years ago, the president is now just looking to hold onto the ball — the ball being Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which, along with Nevada and Ohio, would provide the 271 electoral votes necessary to secure a second term.

Romney, on the other hand, is claiming momentum but facing a daunting electoral map.

His campaign Monday announced that Romney himself would make two appearances on Election Day in Ohio and Pennsylvania, a move intended to show voters he’s fighting until the very end but one that also acknowledges how important the Keystone State may be to a campaign that now appears to need an alternate path to 270.

On Monday, with rocker Kid Rock in tow, Romney rallied supporters in Florida, Virginia, and Ohio — three states he needs to win, but none more important than Ohio, where polls have shown a persistent lead for the president.

“Let me tell you why he fell so short of what he promised,” Romney said, again casting the president as a failure. “It’s because he cared more about a liberal agenda than he did about repairing the economy.

Mitt Romney greets supporters in Sanford, Fla. Monday at his first of four rallies on the final day before Tuesday’s election.

“If there is anyone who is worried that the last four years are the best we can do, or if there is anyone who is fearing that the American dream is fading away, or if there is anyone who wonders whether better jobs and better paychecks are a thing of the past, I have a clear and unequivocal message: with the right leadership, America is about to come roaring back.”

The Buckeye State was the only battleground where both candidates crossed paths on Monday. Obama, along with Springsteen and the rapper Jay-Z, rallied another huge crowd in Columbus.

Romney will hold his final campaign rally late Monday night in New Hampshire, the state where the GOP nominee’s road to the nomination began earlier this year with a win in that state’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Likewise, Obama is returning to his roots, heading to Iowa, the state that jump-started his own unlikely run to the Democratic nomination four years ago, for his final campaign rally Monday night.

Both candidates held their final Colorado rallies this past weekend, with Romney rallying 17,000 supporters at Comfort Dental Amphitheater in Englewood Saturday night; and Obama, holding a late-night rally Sunday before an estimated crowd of 20,000 shivering supporters gathered on the Lowry campus of Aurora Community College.

Romney’s running-mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, rallied supporters Monday afternoon at Johnson’s Corner in what was the final presidential campaign event in the state this year.