In the final stretch before Election Day, an energized President Obama urged Wisconsin supporters to vote during a fiery Milwaukee stump speech, casting himself as a crusader for the people against the powerful and brushing off Mitt Romney's attempt to don the mantle of change with a simple refrain: "We know what change is," and Romney's policies are "not change."
Mr. Obama, who told attendees, "You know I'm working hard because my voice is getting a little raspy," began with a paean to the bipartisan show of unity in superstorm Sandy's aftermath, underscoring his message that "we're all in this together."
The government's response to the disaster, Mr. Obama said, featured "leaders of different political parties working together," proving that "no matter how tough times may get, we always bounce back because we're all in this together. We rise and fall as one nation and one people."
Mr. Obama sought to link himself to the economic prosperity of former President Bill Clinton's tenure while portraying Romney as the second coming of President George W. Bush. Comparing Mr. Clinton's boffo job creation record with Mr. Bush's comparatively rocky economic record, Mr. Obama explained pithily, "We know our ideas work, and we know their ideas don't work."
After the crowd booed at a mention of Romney, Mr. Obama repeated a familiar line, telling supporters, "Don't boo; vote." He did not repeat an earlier remark that "voting is the best revenge," a comment that.
The president stressed a few of his first term's more bipartisan accomplishments, commending Republicans for supporting an extension of middle class tax cuts and a repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
But Mr. Obama drew a firm line on cooperation, saying that as long as he remains president, he will not support policies that he said would allow insurance companies to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions or turn Medicare into a voucher system to pay for another tax cut for wealthy individuals.
"That's not bipartisanship. That's not change. That's surrender," said the president.
He closed his stump performance with a return to his people-versus-the-powerful message, explaining, "The folks at the very top in this country, they don't need a champion in Washington...The people who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night.
Polls currently show the president with a slim but persistent lead in the Badger State.