Romney pushes love, hope and change vs. Obama’s revenge

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

Gov. Mitt Romney is finishing his 2012 race by calling for love, change and hope, while President Barack Obama’s deputies are struggling to explain his call for “revenge.”

Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan are spotlighting Obama’s aggressively partisan call on Nov. 2 to his supporters — “Vote! Voting is the best revenge” — to emphasize their optimistic pitch to swing voters who are burdened by four years of a stalled economy.

Obama “asked his supporters to vote for revenge, for revenge,” Romney said at a rally late Nov. 2. “Instead I ask the American people to vote for love of country,” he said, prompting a roar of applause from the large crowd. (RELATED VIDEO: Obama tells Ohio voters he’s a ‘nice guy’ who is ready to ‘fight’ on their behalf)

The Romney campaign has turned that pitch into end-of-campaign TV commercial, and Ryan is using the same theme to help spur a stronger base turnout.

“In 2008, [Obama] appealed to our highest aspirations. Now, he’s appealing to our lowest fears,” Ryan told a rally on Saturday.

“Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote out of love for country. … We don’t believe in revenge, we believe in change and hope,” he said, snatching Obama’s signature slogan from 2008.

In fact, Romney is using the “change” slogan so often that word appeared 12 times in his “Real Change from Day One speech.”

“President Obama promised change, but he could not deliver it. I promise change, and I have a record of achieving it. … If you are tired of being tired, then I ask you to vote for real change. Paul Ryan and I will bring real change to America, from Day One,” Romney said Saturday.

Obama’s revenge comment came as he briefly mentioned Romney after discussing former President Bill Clinton’s economic plan. The Democratic crowd booed, and Obama automatically responded, as he has on many other occasions, with a routine riff: “No, no, no — don’t boo, vote!”

This time, however, he quickly added, “Vote! Voting is the best revenge.“

The sharply aggressive comment has budged the established media’s coverage of the race in Romney’s favor as the last undecided voters make up their mind, and has given GOP advocates plenty of opportunities to taunt Obama.

“What a uniter,” was the response from Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

On Saturday, Obama spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki tried to explain the “revenge” call as a reaction to Romney’s attack ads in Ohio.

“Well, it’s important to remember that the context of when the president said. That was as he was laying out the fact that Mitt Romney is closing his campaign with an ad full of scare tactics that’s frightening workers in Ohio and [making them think] falsely that they’re not going to have a job,” Psaki said in a morning press conference on Air Force One on Saturday.

In fact, the comment was not related to the ad, which cited a report that the production of Jeep autos in Ohio might be moved to China.

The likelier drivers for Obama’s “revenge” comment were the pressure that Obama is feeling as the race narrows, and also the negative overall tone of his new stump speech.

Obama’s “revenge” comment came on the second day he began using his new stump speech, which is downbeat and negative.

The speech includes a long section slamming Romney’s appropriation of Obama’s 2008 “change” slogan.

“I’m not going to turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. … I’m not going to eliminate investments in research and science that are the key to our future just to pay for a millionaire’s tax cut. …That’s not real change,” Obama said in Springfield.

“We know what real change is. … I ran the last time and I’m running this time because the voices of the American people — your voices — had been shut out of our democracy for way too long by lobbyists and special interests, and politicians who will do whatever it takes to just keep things the way they are,” he claimed at the Springfield rally.

Obama portrays himself in the stump speech as a champion of ordinary Americans betrayed by corruption in Washington.

“The folks at the very top in this country, they don’t need another champion in Washington.  They’ve got lobbyists.  They’ve got PACs.  They’ve always got a seat at the table.  They’ll always have access. … [But] the laid-off furniture worker who decides to go back to a community college and retrain at the age of 55 — she needs a champion.  The restaurant owner who needs a loan to expand after the bank turned him down — he needs a champion.  The cooks and the waiters, and the cleaning staff working overtime in some Vegas hotel, trying to save enough to buy a first home or send their kids to college — they need a champion,” he said.

Obama emphasizes in the stump speech that he is not “tired.”

“They’re counting on now is that you’re going to be so fed up, so worn down with all the squabbling in Washington, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you’ll just give up. … They’re betting on cynicism,” he declared in Springfield.

“I am a long ways away from giving up on this fight.  (Applause.)  I got a lot of fight left in me. … I don’t get tired.  I don’t grow weary.  I hope you aren’t tired either, Ohio,” he declared, according to the official transcript.

“I may be full of gray hair now, but I’m just as determined as I was four years ago.,” he said on Saturday while delivering the same speech in Dubuque, Iowa. “I’m not tired and I’m not weary. … Iowa, I hope you are not either,” said the transcript.

However, Romney’s supporters are far more enthusiastic that were Sen. John McCain’s in 2008, and Romney is neck-and-neck in critical swing-states.

The pressure is reflected in the Obama’s ad-libbed departures from his stump speech.

For example, after he made his revenge comment, Obama repeatedly told the crowd that he needed their support to win.

“I need your votes, Springfield.  That’s why I need your vote, Ohio. … That’s why I need you, Ohio. … We’ve come too far to turn back now. …. Ohio, that’s why I need your vote.”

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