Green Bay, Wisconsin (CNN) – President Obama kicked off the final push towards Election Day with what sounded like a closing argument meant to reassure voters that by voting for him, they know what they're getting.
After four days away from the campaign trail spent overseeing the federal government's response to Hurricane Sandy, the president began his remarks here at Austin Straubel Airport on Thursday morning with a small taste of the nonpartisan tone that has dominated the week. First he thanked one of his introducers, Green Bay Packers safety Charles Woodson, for announcing a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross.
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"When disaster strikes we see America at its best," the president said. "All the petty differences that consume us in normal times all seem to melt away. There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm. There are just fellow Americans, leaders of different parties working to fix what's broken. Neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy."
But the campaign rhetoric was soon back in full force, as Obama sought to convince Wisconsin voters that while he continues to fight for the change he promised in 2008, his opponent would reverse it. Calling Mitt Romney a talented "salesman," the president said that Romney is trying to "dress up" the policies of the Bush administration and is "offering them up as change."
"He is saying he is the candidate of change," Obama said of Romney. "Well, let me tell you Wisconsin – we know what change looks like and what the governor is offering sure ain't change."
In an attempt to portray Romney as a risky bet for voters looking for something different, Obama reassured the crowd of 2,600 gathered in the Wisconsin cold that he was the real safe choice in this election.
"After four years as president you know me by now," Obama said. "You may not agree with every decision I have made. You may be frustrated at the pace of change, but you know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I am willing to make tough decisions even when they are not politically convenient, and you know I will fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how. You know that."
While his opponents' "bet is on cynicism," the president said, his bet "is on the decency and good sense of the American people because despite all the resistance, despite all the setbacks we have won some great fights."
From here, Obama goes onto to Nevada and Colorado, beginning a whirlwind tour of swing states with at least 17 stops in the final five days before polls close on Tuesday. More than half of those stops will be in states often considered part of the Obama campaign's Midwestern firewall, and more than one third will be in the crucial state of Ohio.