On Saturday morning, Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd in Arvada that a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for a candidate who doesn't have confidence in average Americans. But after taking the stage at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre that night, Romney told thousands that a vote for him is for "love of country." And more people will choose that path, he predicted, telling supporters at his last Colorado rally that he's going to win.
In the homestretch, both campaigns have morphed their stump speeches, reflecting different strategies to court swing state voters in the final days of the race. And Colorado voters on both sides have had many opportunities to hear the latest messages on the campaign trial. Paul Ryan, who held his first major rally as a vice presidential candidate in Colorado, had events in the state on Friday and Sunday -- and he has one last stop in Johnston this afternoon. Biden, who has only been to Colorado twice this year, spoke at a smaller rally on Saturday. And the president, after a lengthy day crisscrossing the country, and just days after a huge rally in Boulder, ended his day yesterday with another massive event in Aurora.
For Romney, who stood alongside his wife Ann, the Saturday night stop at Comfort Dental (formerly Fiddler's Green), was an opportunity to make one last plea to voters in Colorado, where polls have continued to show a virtual tie. In the early voting period, turnout data from the Secretary of State's office shows that more Republicans than Democrats have shown up -- but there are still millions of voters who will have a final opportunity to cast ballots on election day -- and given the unknown factor of unaffiliated voters, the state's nine electoral votes are still very much up for grabs.
So why vote for Romney? According to Romney, whose campaign famously took a hit when a leaked video showed him criticizing 47 percent of the country, it's the patriotic thing to do.
"Our big dreams will not be satisfied with a small agenda that's already failed," Romney said, speaking to an estimated 17,000 just after the sun set. "Yesterday, President Obama asked his supporters to vote for revenge. For revenge. Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country."
Romney was referring to a comment the president made in Ohio on Friday, in which, he said that "voting is the best revenge," as a short add-on to his stump line, "Don't boo, vote!" Obama's opponents have since pounced on the mark as a divisive attack, while the president's aides have explained that it was simply a call for his supporters to stand up to Mitt Romney's policies that are unfriendly to the middle class.
Still, the comment has given fuel to Romney, who added that line to the stump speech that he has been delivering over the weekend -- a version of what his campaign has called the "closing argument" he made in Wisconsin on Friday. The main theme of that speech, with a boost from the revenge comment, is that he will be a president who will work well with Democrats, unlike his opponent, who has only managed to divide people in his four years in office.
"He said he would work across the aisle on the most important issues," Romney said of Obama. "I thought this was interesting -- he has not met on the economy or on the budget or on jobs with either the Republican leader of the House or the Senate since July."
Continuing over a sea of boos from the crowd, Romney said, "So instead of bridging the divide, he's made the divide wider. Now people wonder, how is it that he's fallen so short of what he promised? I think it's in part because he's never led. He's never worked across the aisle."
Continue for more from his speech and his wife's speech as well as more photos. Another theme: A vote for Romney is not just a vote for "love of country," but it's also a vote for "real change" -- a message underscored by a large sign behind him that read, "REAL CHANGE ON DAY ONE."
Romney said, "Accomplishing change is not just something I talk about. It's something I have done. And it's what I will do when I'm President of the United States."
He later returned to the message of unity, saying, "The best achievements are shared achievements. I learned that respect and goodwill go a long way and are usually returned in kind.... I'll bring people together, doing big things for the common good. I won't just represent one party -- I will represent one nation."
This theory is one Romney's team hopes will resonate with those remaining undecided voters, if they still exist. In Colorado, residents on the fence about their decision are the ones who could make all the difference in a race that is certain to be decided by a very small margin of voters.
"Now, the closing hours of the campaign have a dynamic all of their own, as you can imagine. Many voters have already made up their mind as to who they're going to vote for," he said to loud cheers. "But a lot of others are just putting aside the demands of daily living and they're considering who they're going to vote for and how that vote will affect their life, and the lives of their children and the course of the country that we all love. And so we ask them to look beyond the speeches and the attacks and the ads. Look to the record, the accomplishments, the failures and the judgment, because words are cheap and a record is real -- and it's earned with effort."
Throughout the speech, Romney often told the crowd that he will be elected on Tuesday -- and it was a message reinforced by his wife Ann, who, in her introductory speech, said the same thing she told a Colorado crowd a month earlier.
"We're getting closer and closer. This is getting very excited," Ann Romney said, prompting nonstop cheers of "We want Ann! We want Ann!" until her husband interrupted and said, "You've got her!"
She continued, "We've had such a thrill to be able to go across this country. And now that journey is coming to a close -- but a new journey is about to begin. What a thrill it's gonna be for me, because I know something about Mitt: He does not fail."
Supporter Judy Robertson, 69, of Loveland, said that she is 100 percent confident in her candidate winning.
"I believe in voting for your biblical values and he is doing what the Bible says. He is against abortion. He is against gay marriage.... And God will bless us," said Robertson, who wore a large red, white and blue hat with an elephant on it, along with a Paul Ryan-Mitt Romney pin. "Romney is gonna win -- he is gonna conquer."
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