MENTOR, Ohio -- Reaching for the finish line, Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama embarked Saturday on the final 72-hour haul of their long, grinding quest for victory, swatting at each other over what should motivate Americans to vote, which candidate they can trust and offering dueling pictures of what the next four years should bring.
Romney opened a three-state campaign day in New Hampshire by faulting Obama for telling supporters a day earlier that voting would be their "best revenge."
"Vote for 'revenge'?" the GOP candidate asked, expressing incredulity. "Let me tell you what I'd like to tell you: Vote for love of country. It is time we lead America to a better place." The Republican nominee released a TV ad carrying the same message.
Obama, campaigning in the uber-battleground of Ohio, countered with a final reminder that Tuesday's election is "not just a choice between two candidates or two parties; it's a choice between two different visions for America."
The president offered himself as the candidate voters can trust, renewing his criticism of Romney for what he said were misleading ads suggesting that automakers were shifting U.S. jobs to China.
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The president urged voters in an overflow room to shepherd their friends and neighbors to the polls to vote early, tacking on this very practical caveat: "You should convince them to vote for me before you drag them off to the polls."
Campaign spokesman Jennifer Psaki said the president's revenge comment was nothing more than a reminder that if voters think Romney's policies are "a bad deal for the middle class, then you have power, you can go to the voting booth and cast your ballot."
Whatever their motivation, 27 million Americans have already cast ballots nationwide.
Before leaving Washington, Obama tended to presidential business as he led a briefing at the government's disaster relief agency on the federal response to superstorm Sandy. The Democrat said the recovery still has a long way to go but pledged a "120 percent effort" by all those involved.
"There's nothing more important than us getting this right," Obama said, keenly aware that a spot-on government response to the storm also was important to his political prospects.
After holding mostly small and midsize rallies for much of the campaign, Obama's team is holding a series of larger events this weekend aimed at drawing big crowds in battleground states.
Obama's closing weekend also includes two joint events with former President Bill Clinton: a rally last night in Virginia and an event Sunday in New Hampshire. The two presidents had planned to campaign together across three states earlier this week, but that trip was called off because of Sandy.