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Obama, Springsteen and Jay-Z in Ohio. Why Springsteen wants Obama to win

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- "Ohio, I'm not ready to give up on the fight," President Barack Obama is saying Monday at the second-to-the-last rally of the final day of his last election campaign. "I've got a whole lot of fight left in me, and I hope you do, too."

Obama is at the Nationwide Arena here, with Bruce SpringĀ­steen and Jay-Z as his warm-up acts -- Springsteen a bit zany doing an imitation of Obama singing Al Green. "I believe that the president has musical aspirations," Springsteen quipped, "which is why I'm trying to get him elected . . . got to keep the competition away."

Springsteen was with Obama at his last Ohio rally four years ago -- it was in Cleveland and much larger -- and returned with him for his final stand in the Buckeye state on Monday. But as we all know, no matter how much fight Obama says he has in him -- it's not up to him.

The voters decide Tuesday in a contest that is almost too close to call, despite each side and their allies throwing in at least $1 billion each. Mitt Romney could win -- but I am guessing Obama pulls it out after a 2012 contest as grim as the 2008 election was uplifting.

The rally is boisterous -- this is Obama's crowd after all, and who doesn't love the Boss and Jay-Z -- with demographic diversity like you never see at a Romney event: black, white, old, young. This rally is close to Ohio State University -- and that's no accident. Obama's votes come from campus towns and cities.

Bellwether Ohio is the major battleground, with the brawl for its 18 electoral votes fierce -- no Republican has won the White House without this state. That's a reason why Romney's campaign plane touched down at the airport here a short time after the Obama rally for Romney's election eve visit.

Hold on -- it is not really election eve here -- Ohio voters have been at it for a month.

For all the splash and pizzazz of rallies, the mechanics of elections are what often win it for candidates, and Obama's team has been at it for years. In 2008, Obama's campaign realized the potential of corralling early votes, while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) never built a deep ground game.

Romney did not make that mistake; his campaign built get-out-the-vote operations aimed at the early vote. Exploiting the potential of early voting has been a hallmark of the 2012 presidential election. Why vote early? You never know when a hurricane is going to strike.

"How many have early voted around here?" Obama asked the crowd, and it seemed, by the shouts back at him, a heck of a lot had.

Marna Fitzpatrick, 32, a digital advertising marketer from Dublin -- wearing an "Obama mama" T-shirt -- was at the rally and told me she tried to vote early: "I went and made an effort to go twice." But the line was too long each time. She will vote in person on Tuesday.

In a few hours, we'll know whether Obama has four more years to fight for all the change he has been promising us.

Said Obama: "We've come too far to turn back now. We've come too far to let our hearts grow faint. Now's the time to keep pushing forward."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 6, 2012 6:55 AM.

Romney, Ryan Nov. 6 public schedule: Election day stumping was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama, Michelle final campaign speeches: In Des Moines, "Fired up, ready to go" Transcript is the next entry in this blog.

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