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Romney Brings Bipartisan Appeal To Final Push

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: I'm Ari Shapiro, traveling with the Romney campaign. And here's a summary of Romney's final sprint: a rally in New Hampshire, a flight to Iowa for another rally, a flight to Colorado, two rallies there, with a long bus drive in between, then back to Iowa for a few hours' sleep in Des Moines. And that was just yesterday. Romney means it when he says:

MITT ROMNEY: We've had some long days and some very short nights.

SHAPIRO: In a way, New Hampshire was the perfect place to kick off this final weekend, not just because he launched his presidential bid here but also because New Hampshire's moderate brand of Republicanism fits Romney's latest message. It's a message that brings him full-circle - from the blue-state governor through the severely conservative primary candidate back to end now with a passionate embrace of bipartisanship. Here's what Romney says will happen on Wednesday, the morning after the election:

M. ROMNEY: What I need you to do is to go across your street to your neighbor that has that other sign in the front yard, and in Washington I'm going to go across the aisle to the guys who have been working for the other candidate.

SHAPIRO: This appeal reflects a careful calculation by the Romney campaign. President Obama has a small lead in important swing states, but Romney has an edge with independent voters. To win, the Romney campaign believes they need to build on that with a message of bipartisanship, while also motivating the base through attacks on President Obama.

M. ROMNEY: He just has not been able to deliver on the promises he's made. Talk is cheap. A record is real and takes hard work.

SHAPIRO: Ann Romney is joining her husband on this final swing. She came down the aisle of the airplane yesterday handing out pumpkin whoopee pies and reflected on this long road.

ANN ROMNEY: It was very emotional when I take my last sort of address by myself because I heard the voices and the passion of people that are out there that are really hurting.

SHAPIRO: In Dubuque, Iowa, it was another airport rally where the Romney plane slowly rolled up to the stage as grandiose music played. Romney repeated an attack he's been making at every stop. On Friday, President Obama told an audience don't boo, vote. Voting is the best revenge.

M. ROMNEY: He's asking his supporters to vote for revenge. I'm asking you to vote for love of country.

SHAPIRO: At night, Romney had a pair of rallies in Colorado, ending with a raucous crowd of 17,000 people filling an amphitheater near Denver. For months, Romney's stump speech has included the story of a Boy Scout troop in Colorado that sent an American flag up with the Space Shuttle Challenger. The shuttle exploded, but the flag was recovered. In Denver, the audience gasped as the story took an unexpected turn.

M. ROMNEY: I haven't seen that flag in, I don't know, 15 or 20 years with that scoutmaster, but Monument, Colorado's not that far from here. Would you please welcome that scoutmaster from Monument, Colorado and that flag.

SHAPIRO: He walked in holding the flag in a glass and wooden triangular box. The moment felt climactic and final. A sense of nostalgia has started to permeate the campaign. Many of the staffers have worked together since Romney started his political career. Yesterday, one said wistfully: These guys have been my best friends for ten years, then added: but I'm not sad the campaign is ending. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, traveling with the Romney campaign. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.