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Romney Back On The Attack In Virginia


On a Friday - we've made it to Friday - it's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. After billions of dollars, hours of television ads, dozens of gaffes, and miles of campaign travel, we've also made it to the last weekend of the 2012 campaign. With four days left until voting day, the candidates are running out of time to nail down support in crucial swing states. We'll hear from the Obama campaign, in a moment. For the Romney campaign, all of yesterday was focused on just one state, a virtual must-win for the challenger. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from Virginia.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Mitt Romney's final pitch to voters amounts to this: Choose a problem-solver, a guy who can work with both parties to get the job done.


MITT ROMNEY: I'm going to meet regularly with Democrat leaders and Republican leaders. I won't do that once a year. When I say regularly, I mean much more frequently than that.

SHAPIRO: This was his relentless refrain across Virginia yesterday. Even the opening speakers joined the chorus. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor may be an unlikely vehicle for that message. His unwavering, ideological purity earns him conservative admiration and liberal rage. But you wouldn't know it, hearing Cantor introduce Romney at this rally outside of Richmond.

REP. ERIC CANTOR: We know how to set differences aside, and we know how to come together. That's what this country is built upon - is a spirit of cooperation, of understanding.

SHAPIRO: Romney used Cantor as a case study, to show President Obama's inability to create consensus.

ROMNEY: Leader Cantor, when was the last time you met with the president on the economy or jobs, on the budget?


CANTOR: (in background) Almost a year.

ROMNEY: He says, almost a year. We'll have to go back and check the calendar.

SHAPIRO: Cantor and the president met regularly at the White House last year, during the failed debt-reduction talks that caused the U.S. to lose its triple-A credit rating. For most of this week, Romney held back from criticizing his opponent as Hurricane Sandy raged. But yesterday, he was back in full attack mode, mocking the president's plan to consolidate government offices under a secretary of Business.


ROMNEY: I just don't think another Cabinet chair is going to create the jobs that America needs. And so I'm - I'm entitled to make sure that we get a president who understands business, as opposed to tries to hire someone to the Cabinet, who has a background in business.


SHAPIRO: As Romney started talking about solidarity with storm victims up north, a man in the audience began shouting, what about climate? That's what caused this monster storm.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: What about climate? That's what caused this monster storm - climate change.



SHAPIRO: He held up a sign, "End Climate Silence." The crowd drowned him out, chanting U.S.A., while Secret Service escorted the protester from the building.


SHAPIRO: At this rally site, surrounded by tractors and hay bales, the audience of 2,000 did not quite fill up the cavernous Farm Bureau event space. That's not what any candidate hopes for, this close to Election Day. And Romney supporter Cecilia LePage is worried. She wears a pink, camouflage baseball cap that says Romney-Ryan.

CECILIA LEPAGE: I wish I were more confident. I wish I were more confident. But we'll be there, rooting all the way. So if pure spirit can take him in there, we'll get him there. We just can't take four more years.

SHAPIRO: Romney's last event of the night was much bigger - a crowd of 6,000, at an amphitheater in Virginia Beach. People on stage held up letters that spelled out "Bring It Home Virginia."

ROMNEY: Look, look, the Obama campaign is out there chanting. I just drove by a group of protesters today, and they were out there chanting four more years. We have our own chant. It's five more days, all right?


SHAPIRO: In these last days of the race, Romney will make a final visit to many of the swing states that he's spent a lot of time in, over the last few months. And he'll stop by one state where he's spent very little time. The campaign announced that Romney will go to Pennsylvania on Sunday. That's a state no Republican has won in more than 20 years. The Romney campaign had written it off this year. But now, he's decided to make one, last-second effort to grab it.

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.