Obama rushes back to campaign trail to win over the waverers in Wisconsin

'Insurance' stop in state that was safe four years ago – but now looks tight
  • @dusborne

President Barack Obama sprang back on to the campaign trail yesterday after tending to victims of Superstorm Sandy, buoyed by an endorsement from New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg, and pushed on with an urgent mission to protect his narrow advantage in Wisconsin, a state he won by 14 points four years ago.

In a leather bomber jacket with the presidential seal on its breast, President Obama practically jumped from the door of Air Force One and jogged across the tarmac to make a forceful appeal to Wisconsin voters to stick with him, portraying himself as the energetic champion of ordinary Americans rather than the wealthy.

"The folks at the very top in this country don't need another champion in Washington; they will always have a seat at the table," he said at the rally in Green Bay, in a swipe at his challenger Mitt Romney.

Mr Obama may have benefited by the rolled-up sleeves images of his rushing to the side of victims of the storm but today his campaign faces the last batch of monthly jobs numbers which will remind voters of the slow speed of the recovery. That he found himself rushing to repel Mr Romney here in Wisconsin yesterday was an indication that he can leave nothing to chance in the final hours of the race.

"It's insurance," a source close to the President told The Independent about the Green Bay stop, adding that internal campaign polling in all the swing states was still solid for the incumbent. Jen Psaki, an Obama spokeswoman, said the race here was tight in part because it is the home state of Romey's running mate Paul Ryan. "We always knew this state would be a harder fight than it was four years ago."

If, after his huge 2008 margin here, Wisconsin had seemed safe territory for the President, that has changed. Two years ago, voters here elected the sharply conservative Scott Walker as the governor, whose first priority was stripping collective bargaining rights from the unions. In June he survived an effort to oust him in a recall vote.

Caroyl Long, a lawyer who came to see the President, was one who had worked hard to chase him from office. She says she has seen a change of mood in recent days. "There is a buzz going on here for Obama; we are feeling positive about moving the nation forward." That he spent three days minding Sandy victims had helped, she conceded.

But among the battleground states that will decide this still nail-biting race none are more fickle today than Wisconsin. In an Associated Press survey this week, of the 106 most-volatile counties in nine swing states, 32 were in the Badger State. Republicans are counting on local pride in the presence on the ticket of Mr Ryan, from Janesville in the state's south.

Unveiling his closing arguments, Mr Obama argued that the collapse of the economy was the legacy of failed Republican trickle-down policies.

"Governor Romney has been using all his talents as a salesman to dress up the very same policies we've been cleaning up after for the past four years. And he is offering them up as change," he said. "Let me tell you, Wisconsin, we know what change looks like. Giving more power back to the biggest banks isn't change. Leaving millions without health insurance isn't change. Another $5trn tax cut that favours the wealthy isn't change."