In a close election everything is important

  • 3 November 2012
  • From the section US & Canada
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Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Lima, Ohio 2 November 2012 Image copyright Getty Images

The hangar-like fairground site was not the most inspiring venue - chilly and bare - but US President Barack Obama has certainly warmed up.

He bounced on to the stage, grinning broadly, grabbing hands and hugging supporters with something like joy.

It is amazing what a few days of crisis management can do. Or maybe it is improving opinion polls.

President Obama's new zeal is reflected in a new speech. The man who wrote it stood by the side silently mouthing the words as the president spoke.

Friday's jobs figures got a passing mention.

"This morning, we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months," President Obama said.

But his message was more general.

"As long as there's a single American who wants a job and can't find one; as long as there are families working harder but falling behind; as long as there's a child anywhere in this country who's languishing in poverty, and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on. We've got more work to do."

'Real change'?

The president's voice is slightly hoarse, but he is now pounding his message, the repetitive rhythm familiar to many from Sunday services, roaring with a preacher's passion.

"I'm not ready to give up on the fight. I'm not ready to give up on the fight to make sure that the middle class is growing. I'm not ready to give up on the fight to make sure every child has opportunity."

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who held a big rally in Ohio tonight, does not scale these rhetorical heights, nor does he seem to have the same confidence that he had a week earlier.

He makes a point that he is not about words but deeds. He tells his audience that President Obama has clearly failed.

"He said that the unemployment rate would now be 5.2%. Today we learned that it is 7.9% - it is 9 million jobs short of what he promised," Mr Romney says. "Unemployment is higher today than when Barack Obama took office."

And Mr Romney says he is the man to make a difference: "This is why I am running for president. I know how to change the course the nation is on, how to get us to a balanced budget and how to build jobs and rising take-home pay.

"Accomplishing real change is not something I just talk about - it is something I have done. And it is what I will do when I am president of the United States."

Although pundits and politicians pore over the monthly jobs figures, I am not sure how much impact they make. Most people are likely to look to their own experience.

Friday's statistics indicate what we all know: there is a recovery, but it is very slow.

But this close to such a tight election, everything is important. If one of the candidates' multiplication of figures by rhetoric adds up to just a handful of votes, that could equal victory.

The BBC will be providing full online live results of the US presidential election on 6 November. More details here