Voters in the United States will on Tuesday (today) decide who would rule the most powerful country in the world for the next four years.
Incumbent President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, made a dash to a series of crucial swing states on Monday, delivering their final arguments to voters on the last day of an extraordinarily close race for the White House.
In the build up to the election, both candidates had attended hundreds of rallies, town hall events and fundraisers. They also squared-off in three nationally televised debates which were memorable but did not turn out to be decisive.
In the race, the two contenders and their party allies raised a combined $2bn and analysts posit that the 2012 election campaign is the most expensive in US history.
Obama, the 44th US President is the first black man to rule the country. After a close race in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton, he won his party’s nomination.
In the 2008 presidential election, he defeated Republican nominee, John McCain, and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009.
But polls show that Obama who is seeking a second term and the Republican candidate, Romney remain locked in a virtual dead heat.
Meanwhile, Romney will become the first Mormon president of the US if he wins the election.
In the 2008 presidential election it was estimated that about 130 million people voted. Close to thirty million Americans have already cast their ballot through early voting across 34 states.
Obama, Romney, Vice-President Joe Biden and Republican vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan were scattered across the country Monday, cramming in 11th-hour visits to battleground states.
Romney started his day in the central Florida city of Sanford, and later had a stop in Virginia and Ohio before a final rally in New Hampshire where he won his first primary of this political season.
“Tomorrow (Tuesday) we begin a new tomorrow,” Romney said at his Florida rally. “This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow. Your work is making a difference.”
Romney warned supporters of further financial trouble unless voters choose to send him to the White House.
“Unless we change course,” Romney said at his first event of the day in Sanford, Florida. “We may be looking at another recession.”
“Your voices are being heard all over the nation loud and clear, thank you,” Romney said in Virginia. “I also want to thank many of you in this crowd that have been out there working on the campaign – making calls from the victory centers, and by putting up a yard sign, in your neighbor’s yard and maybe convincing a coworker to vote for Paul Ryan and me.”
Obama’s first appearance on Monday was at rally in Madison, Wisconsin, a college town and liberal stronghold. From there he travelled to Iowa, where he won his first presidential primary in 2007 and then to a final event in Ohio before traveling to Chicago for the night, Al Jazeera reports.
He used his Wisconsin rally to emphasise the differences between his philosophy and Romney’s.
“It’s not just a choice between two candidates and two parties, it’s a choice between two different visions for America,” he said.
The BBC quoted Obama as saying, “You may be frustrated with the pace of change. I promise you, so am I sometimes. But you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say.
“I said I’d end the war in Iraq, and I ended it. I said I’d pass health care reform – I passed it. I said I’d repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ – we repealed it. I said we’d crack down on reckless practices on Wall Street, and we did.
“So you know where I stand, you know what I believe, you know I tell the truth – and you know I’ll fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how, you know that about me.”