DES MOINES — President Barack Obama and GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan punctuated their 2012 campaigns with high-energy rallies Monday they each hope will deliver the final push that will propel them across the finish line in Iowa today.
Thousands of Obama supporters filled the downtown streets last night around an East Village building that served as his Iowa headquarters in 2007.
With rocker Bruce Springsteen and first lady Michelle Obama helping to energize the estimated at 20,000 attendees, the president both thanked Iowans for their past support and appealed to them to cast one more ballot on his behalf.
“I’ve come back to Iowa one more time to ask you for your vote,” Obama told the crowd. “I’ve come back to ask you to help finish what we started.”
The president thanked Iowans for taking up his cause in 2007 and starting a movement that spread across the country. Now, he said, those same people who supported him four years ago need to help him fight in Washington for working Americans striving to achieve their dreams.
“It all comes down to you now. It’s out of my hands. It’s all in yours,” he told the cheering throng that flooded downtown streets at the outdoor rally. “We’ve come too far to give up now. We have to keep moving forward.”
Supporter Rich Soyer, a project engineer from Johnston, said four years just weren’t enough time to pull the country out of the mess it was in when Obama took office. He credited the president with shutting down military operations in Iraq.
“We’re out of a war, we’re almost out of another one, people just complain about the economy,” he said. “Fact is, we’re out war, that’s important. I’ve got kids, I don’t want them to go to war; that’s the bottom line for me.”
Earlier in the day, Ryan told supporters at a fly-in rally in Des Moines that Obama has led the nation down a path of big government, staggering debt and economic stagnation. That shift, he said, can be reversed only by electing Mitt Romney’s Republican ticket.
“We liked the sound” of Obama’s 2008 promises, Ryan told 1,200 supporters who packed into an airport hangar at Elliot Aviation. Some overflow was turned away by the fire marshal, according to the campaign. “Then came the terrible results.”
Ryan — who appeared at the Iowa event with his wife, Janna, and their three children — struck an optimistic tone as he alternately thanked the crowd and asked them to keep working to elect the Romney-Ryan ticket. The Wisconsin congressman painted a picture of Obama as a bitter, resentful incumbent.
“Look at how President Obama is closing his campaign,” Ryan said. “He spent the entire summer and fall trying to destroy Mitt Romney. … Talk of hope and change became revenge and anger.”
Attendee Wayne Wrich, 58, of Aplington, said he sees a bright future for Ryan in his own right.
“I like him the best out of all four who are running, president and vice president,” Wrich said. “He has the best fiscal sense of them … I do hope he runs for president some day, if it’s all right with his family.”
The polls at Iowa’s 1,688 precincts open at 7 a.m. today and close at 9 p.m.
The Gazette Des Moines Bureau’s Mike Wiser contributed to this report.