Defiant Romney keeps celebratory apple juice on ice

Republican challenger's path to the White House narrows - but his supporters maintain that a late surge would win him the day

Boston

Mitt Romney fought to the bitter end last night, insisting that he still expected to eke out an success, even as his pathways to the White House appeared to be slowly narrowing.

As darkness fell, the Republican candidate told reporters that he’d prepared just one set of remarks to deliver to revellers at his late night election night party: a 1,118-word victory speech.

“I feel like we put it all on the field. We left nothing in the locker room. We fought to the very end, and I think that’s why we’ll be successful,” he said as his campaign jet returned to Boston. “This is a big day for big change.

The remarks came as Romney returned from an election day spin through the swing states. After watching results come in from his nearby hotel suite, he was due to join roughly a thousand supporters and campaign workers in the Grand Ballroom of Boston’s huge steel-and-glass Convention Centre.

Outwardly, the mood remained optimistic, with aides insisting that mixed exit polls could not be trusted. Romney, a lifelong teetotaller, reportedly told staff to keep sparkling apple juice on ice for victory toasts.

“I’m expecting a very solid win tonight and I’m looking forward to being able to represent all the people in getting this country going again,” he’d earlier told WMAL, a conservative talk radio station.

“I’m looking forward to rebuilding our military, rebuilding our economy. Getting better jobs, and getting that attractive balanced budget.”

Mr Romney had seemed similarly relaxed and confident throughout the day, although final polls showed President Obama with a narrow but solid lead in almost every swing state, Mr Romney predicted that a final surge of GOP support would put him over the top.

“It’s very hard to gauge just what’s going to happen state by state,” he said. “The polls we’re seeing show the race very close in Virginia, in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, and even in Michigan and Minnesota. So I believe I’m going to win, but I can’t tell you which state’s going to be the one that puts me over the edge.”

Mr Romney and his wife, Ann, began the day by voting at a community centre in Belmont, the wealthy suburb of Boston, where he lives. He told reporters he felt “very, very good” about his prospects. When asked how he’d voted, he joked: “Oh, I think you know!”

Behind the scenes, the picture was already less rosy. With almost every major poll giving Mr Obama a lead in the states he needs to reach 270 votes in the Electoral College, forecasting analysts put Romney’s chances of victory at less than 10 per cent last night. On betting exchanges, he began the day at 7/2, but by the early hours of today had slipped to 13/2.

Like many recent surveys, yesterday’s most detailed poll, for the website Politico, put the national race at a tie, with each candidate securing 47 per cent of the vote. But in the ten States considered most “in-play,” the firm’s data showed Mr Romney behind by a clear margin of 43 to 49 per cent.

That’s a wide margin. But Republican strategists say Democrats have been over-sampled by polling organisations, and argue that long queues at polling stations yesterday would dissuade flakier Democrats from voting.

Asked what he’d like Americans to consider as they stood at the ballot box, Mr Romney said: “They should ask themselves: do you want four more years like the last four? Or do you want real change?”

In a final pitch for the undecided, Mr Romney spent the afternoon on an impromptu trip to Ohio, which carries 18 Electoral College votes, and Pennsylvania, which carries 20, but has, until recent days, been considered a safe Democratic “hold”.

“I can't imagine an election being won or lost by, let's say, a few hundred votes and you spent your day sitting around," Romney told another radio station, WRVA. "I mean, you'd say to yourself: 'Holy cow, why didn't I keep working?'

Democrats, for their part, equated Romney’s final day agenda to a “Hail Mary” pass, thrown during the final seconds of an American Football game by a side which is trailing, and needs to score a fluke touchdown. “They’re throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it will stick,” said Obama strategist David Plouffe when asked about the afternoon tour.

Team Obama was rattled enough, however, to send Vice President Joe Biden to Cleveland to ensure their rival didn’t steal all of the limelight. His jet, Air Force Two, landed at the local airport just after Romney’s, and immediately before that of Republican running mate Paul Ryan, causing awkward scenes on the tarmac.

For all the outward cheerfulness, there are signs of a post-mortem under way on the Republican side, with some commentators seeking to blame Hurricane Sandy, along with the ensuing praise levelled at President Obama by New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, for their candidate’s late drift in the polls.

Other Republicans have complained about what they believe is the mainstream media’s left-wing bias. Mr Romney himself touched on that topic during a morning radio interview. “I think we’re naive if we think the press is just an impartial observer,” he said.

“As a challenger, and someone who isn’t as well known, I’ve suffered a good deal more scrutiny and scepticism than somebody who’s as well known as [Obama] is. But I don’t worry about that, I don’t complain about that.”

Late on Monday, there had been a sense of stoicism in the air at Mr Romney’s last major rally, at an ice hockey arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. The swing state is where his campaign had been officially launched – over bowls of Ann’s home-made chilli – at a small farm 18 months ago.

The 10,000-strong crowd’s enthusiasm was stoked with the help of an energetic performance by the musician Kid Rock, who stood on a piano decorated with a sticker saying “Bad Ass” to perform “Born Free”, the Romney-Ryan campaign’s anthem.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Finance Assistant - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: General Maintenance Person - Automotive

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Meeter-Greeter - Automotive

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: Course Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Course Manager is required to join a m...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen