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Obama won Wisconsin easily in 2008 but Ryan is popular here and recent polls have Obama up by single digits. The GOP showed its organizational strength in fending off efforts to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said Democrats “continue to have a strategic advantage,” with more field offices and political infrastructure in the state.
With absentee voting already under way in the state, first lady Michelle Obama will campaigning there next week.
Obama made the case against Romney before a crowd at the Milwaukee Theater, countering Romney’s call to change Washington from the inside with an appeal to voters to help him break through partisan gridlock with pressure on Congress from the outside. He said that despite economic troubles, his administration has made progress and has made “practical and specific” proposals to create jobs.
“We’ve seen half a million new jobs in manufacturing, the fastest pace since the 1990s,” he said. “And so the choice now is, do we reverse that progress or do we move forward?
Romney, at his fundraiser near San Diego, said Obama was “taking Americans on a course that is extremely foreign to us.”
“One would suggest that government knows better than free people,” he said. “It’s a pathway to become like Europe, and Europe doesn’t work there. It’s never going to work here. It’s even possible we could be on a pathway to become California — I don’t want that either.”
In advance of Obama’s visit, Romney’s campaign made the argument that Obama’s failure to turn around the economy had Wisconsin voters looking for a different path. Walker said the president had a “Wisconsin problem.” The state’s 7.5 percent unemployment rate is below the national average, but manufacturing has struggled.
The Republican National Committee released a web video, “Since You’ve Been Gone,” highlighting recent GOP organizing efforts in the state and Walker’s success in fending off recall.
Messina saw good signs all over, saying, “We’re either tied or in the lead in every battleground state 45 days out. I think you will see a tightening in the national polls going forward.”
Ryan, campaigning in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, reinforced Romney’s argument that Obama hasn’t been able to make needed changes in Washington, poking at the president’s recent comment that it’s hard to change Washington from the inside without mobilizing public pressure on Congress from the outside.
“Why do we send presidents to the White House in the first place?” Ryan asked. “We send presidents to change and fix the mess in Washington, and if this president has admitted that he can’t change Washington, then you know what? We need to change presidents.”
He also faulted Obama for a “policy of appeasement” toward the Castro regime in Cuba, saying all the president had done was “reward more despotism.”
Obama has eased restrictions to allow Americans to travel to Cuba and to let Cuban-Americans to send money to family on the island. But the president has stopped well-short of discussing lifting the 50-year-old economic embargo, which is widely viewed in Latin America as a failure and has complicated U.S. relationships in the region.
Campaign spokeswoman Jenn Psaki said the president had supported democracy movements on the island and worked to give people there more say in their futures.
In an appearance in Orlando, not far from Florida’s space coast, Ryan criticized the president for putting the U.S. space program “on a path where we are conceding our global position as the unequivocal leader in space.” The Obama campaign responded that Ryan has proposed deep cuts in spending for space exploration.
Underscoring the importance of grass-roots efforts in the campaign’s final days, Biden rallied union workers at a Teamsters union hall in Manchester, N.H., saying their organizing work would be the “antidote” to millions spent on advertising by Republican-leaning super PACs.
Biden said it was because of unions that the U.S. has a strong middle class, and he accused Romney and Ryan of having “a completely different value set, a completely different vision.”
“They’re doubling down on everything that caused the economic crisis in the first place,” he said.
The GOP nominee is feeling fundraising pressure: Last month, for the first time in four months, Obama and the Democratic Party raised more than Romney and the Republican Party, $114 million to $111.6 million.