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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney Address Supporters on Election Day Eve

Aired November 5, 2012 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: And I knew that I wanted a president with a steady character, with deep compassion and strong convictions. I wanted a president who was smart.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: I wanted someone we could trust.

(END LIVE FEED)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett, live in Columbus, Ohio in the final hour before Election Day. You are of course watching Michelle Obama at the final rally for her husband in Des Moines, Iowa. We're going to be going there live in just a moment. We'll be live here in Columbus, but we want to listen first to the First Lady.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

M. OBAMA: -- of all Americans. And the more I thought about it, the more I knew in my heart that I was describing Barack. I knew he could be that president. And for four years, that's exactly what he's done. He has stayed true to himself, and with your help, he's worked day after day to make this country better, to move it forward.

He's rescued our economy from the brink of collapse and saved the auto industry.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: He's passed historic health reform.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: Ended the war in Iraq.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: He's fought so women get equal pay and students can afford college.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) M. OBAMA: He's fought for our seniors so they can retire with dignity, and our veterans, so they can get the benefits they earned and the respect they deserve.

For four years, Barack has been fighting to give every single one of us a fair shot at that great American dream, no matter what we look like or where we come from, or who we love.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: And for four years, we have all seen what I've seen for the past 23 years. We've seen a man of honor and integrity, who knows what he believes and stays true to his values.

I'm so proud of my husband. We have seen an honest man who knows the facts and always gives it to us straight. We've seen a man whose strength and resolve to build a better tomorrow has never wavered, never. And that's why I am so thrilled to be here in Iowa tonight.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: Because long before most people even knew his name, you all saw what I saw. So you did all this crazy stuff. You showed up at campaign offices here in Des Moines and offices all over the state. More importantly, you opened your homes. You held caucus training, you marched with us at the Jefferson Jackson dinner.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: And then on a cold January night, you stood up for Barack, because you knew that he would stand up for you.

And over these past four years, our family has been truly blessed, truly blessed by all of the love and support and prayers that we have received from every corner of this country. And Barack has been truly blessed to have all of you by his side as we have worked together to bring that change we can believe in.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve this nation, just know that. And tomorrow, we get the chance to finish what we started here in Iowa.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: Tomorrow, all across the state, all across this country, we will line up and vote in libraries and community centers and school gyms. We're going to knock on doors until our fingers are numb. We're going to make calls under our voices are hoarse. And we won't stop until every voice and every last vote is counted.

And we will do it -- we will do it because while we have come so far, we know that there's so much more to do. And what we really truly know is that we cannot turn back now. We need to keep moving this country forward.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) M. OBAMA: So that means that we need to re-elect the man who has been fighting for us every single day: my husband, the love of my life, the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END LIVE FEED)

BURNETT: You just watched Michelle Obama, she was introducing her husband. And I think it was a very tender and nice moment there. I'm here with John Avlon, we're getting ready to hear the president speak. But that was a very tender moment there between the two of them and very personal. I think I could read her lips when she said, I'm proud of you. Couldn't read what he said, but so that certainly seemed very genuine. And here is the president, getting ready to give his final pitch to voters, because tomorrow he's playing basketball.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's game day.

BURNETT: It's game day.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, Iowa. Tomorrow. Tomorrow, Iowa. Tomorrow from the granite of New Hampshire to the Rockies of Colorado, from the coastlines of Florida to Virginia's rolling hills, from the valleys of Ohio to these Iowa fields, we will keep America moving forward.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: I've come back to Iowa one more time to ask for your vote. I came back to ask you to help us finish what we've started. Because this is where our movement for change began. Right here. Right here. Right behind these bleachers is the building that was home to our Iowa headquarters in 2008.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: I was just inside, and it brought back a whole lot of memories. This is where some of the first young people who joined our campaign set up shop, willing to work for little pay and less sleep, because they believed that people who love their country can change it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we can!

B. OBAMA: This was where so many of you who shared that belief came to help. You know, when the heat didn't work for the first week or so, some of you brought hats and gloves for the staff. These poor kids, they weren't prepared.

When the walls inside were bare, one of you painted a mural to lift everybody's spirits.

When we had a state pride to march to, when we had a J.J. dinner to fire up, you brought your neighbors and you made homemade signs.

When we had calls to make, teachers and nurses showed up after work, already bone tired but staying anyway, late into the night. And you welcomed me and Michelle into your homes. And you picked us up when we needed a lift. And your faces gave me new hope for this country's future, and your stories filled me with resolve to fight for you every single day I set foot in the Oval Office.

You inspired us.

I want to take this opportunity to say one thing to all the young people and not so young people who have given so much to this campaign over the years. Those of you who haven't done this just for me, but for each other. For a laid-off family member, for a sick child, for a fallen friend. To all of you who have lived and breathed the hard work of change, I want to thank you. You took this campaign and you made it your own, and you organized yourselves, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, county by county. Starting a movement that spread across the country.

A movement made up of young and old and rich and poor, and black and white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, Democrats, Republicans, who believe we've all got something to contribute.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: And we all deserve a shot at our own American dream. When the cynics said we couldn't, you said, yes, we can.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: You said yes, we can, and we did. Against all odds, we did. We didn't know what challenges would come when we began this journey. We didn't know how deep the crisis would turn out, but we knew we would get through those challenges the same way this nation always has. With that determined, unconquerable American spirit that says, no matter how bad the storm gets, no matter how tough times are, we're all in this together. We rise or fall as one nation and as one people.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: That's the spirit that's carried us through the trials and tribulations of the last four years.

In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and today our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: The American auto industry is back. Home values are on the rise. We're less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last 20 years. We've doubled the production of clean energy. Because of the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is ending. Al Qaeda's on the run, Osama bin Laden is dead.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: We've made real progress these past four years. But Iowa, we're here tonight because we have got more work to do. We're not done yet on this journey. We've got more road to travel.

As long as there's a single American that wants a job but can't find one, as long as there are families working harder but still falling behind, as long as there's a child anywhere in Des Moines, anywhere in Iowa, anywhere in this country languishing in poverty, barred from opportunity, our work isn't done. Our fight for change goes on. Because we know this nation cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class and sturdy ladders for everybody who's willing to work to get into that middle class.

Our fight goes on because America's always done best when everybody's got a fair shot and everybody's doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same rules. The people of Iowa understand that. That's what we believe. That's why you elected me in 2008. And Iowa, that's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CROWD (chanting): Four more year, four more years, four more years.

B. OBAMA: Now, the choice you make tomorrow -- and you understand this. Iowans, you guys pay attention. The choice you make is not just between two candidates or parties. It's a choice between two different visions of America, who we are, what we believe, what we care about.

It's a choice between going back to the top-down policies that caused the mess we've been fighting our way out of for four years, or moving forward to a future that's built on a strong and growing middle class. And Iowa, you know me as well as anybody. You've seen a lot of me these last six years. And you know what, you may not agree with every decision I've made. Michelle doesn't.

(LAUGHTER)

B. OBAMA: There may be times where you've been frustrated at the pace of change. I promise you, so have I. But I tell you what, you know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I tell the truth.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: You know I'll fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: And that's why when we talk about change, we know what real change looks like, because we fought for it. We've got the scars to prove it. I have got the gray hair to show it. I wasn't this gray when I first showed up in Iowa. And sometimes it's been hard. Sometimes it's been frustrating. We understand that. But what we also know is that when we decide to make a difference, when Americans come together, determined to bring about change, nobody can stop us. We cannot be stopped. And after all we've been through together, after all that we've fought through together, we cannot give up on change now.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: We know what real change looks like. Change is a country where every American has a shot at a great education, where we recruit new teachers, train new workers, bring down tuition so that no one in this country is forced to give up their dream of a college education.

Change comes when we live up to this country's legacy of innovation by investing in the next generation of technology and manufacturing. Instead of subsidizing oil company profits, I want to support energy jobs of tomorrow, and Iowa knows about clean energy and biodiesel and wind turbines that will free this country from the grip of foreign oil.

I don't want a tax code that rewards companies for creating jobs overseas. I want to reward companies that create jobs right here in America. That's what change is, Iowa.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END LIVE FEED)

BURNETT: You've been listening to Barack Obama giving his closing arguments in Des Moines, Iowa. We want to go to Mitt Romney, who is also making his closing case in Manchester, New Hampshire. Just introduced by his wife, Ann, just as Michelle had introduced the president. Here's Governor Romney.

(BEGIN LIVE EFED)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: -- ask you to stay in it all the way until victory tomorrow night.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow. Now, perhaps some of your friends and family have not yet made up their mind who to vote for. I would like you to make sure and talk to them, and see if you can convince them to come join us. Ask them to look beyond the speeches and the attacks and all the ads, and to look to the record. Because talk is cheap, but a record is real, and it's earned with effort.

Change, change was promised by the president, but change is not measured in speeches. It's measured in achievements.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Four years ago, Candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he has fallen so very short. He promised a post-partisan presidency, but he became partisan, most partisan, blaming, attacking and dividing. And it's not only Republicans he refused to listen to. He also didn't listen to independent voices.

He was going to focus on creating jobs. Instead, he focused on Obamacare, which killed jobs.

And then he said--

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: He said he was going to cut the deficit in half. Instead he doubled it.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: And then he said -- he said that unemployment would now be at 5.2 percent; it's at 7.9 percent. And by the way.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: That's more than just a percentage. That's 9 million Americans that are out of work. And that's the number that we should have had had he been right in the forecast he made as promised. Unemployment today is higher than when the president was elected. He promised that he would propose a plan to save Social Security and Medicare. He didn't. In fact, he raided Medicare to pay for Obamacare, $716 billion.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: He said he would lower health insurance premiums for the average family in America, by $2,500 a year. Anybody here had their premiums go down by $2,500 a year?

CROWD: No!

ROMNEY: Actually, they are now higher by $3,000 a year. And gasoline, the American family pays $2,000 a year more for gasoline than when President Obama was elected.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: He said he would work across party lines on the most important issues. He has not met on the economy or on the budget or on jobs with either Republican leader of the House or the Senate since July. So instead of bridging the divide, he's made it wider.

Now, many of you here in New Hampshire look at the challenges we face as a nation, not first as a Republican or as a Democrat, but as an American. You watched what's happened in this country over the last four years, with an independent view. You hoped that President Obama would live up to his promise to bring people together, to solve the big problems. He hasn't. I will.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: Let me tell you why he fell so short of what he promised. It's because he cared more about a liberal agenda than he did about repairing the economy. I mean, did Obamacare create new jobs?

CROWD: No.

ROMNEY: Did his war on coal and gas and oil create new jobs?

CROWD: No.

ROMNEY: Did those Dodd-Frank regulations help banks make more loans?

CROWD: No.

ROMNEY: Does raising taxes put people to work?

CROWD: No.

ROMNEY: Did his avalanche of new regulations help small business?

CROWD: No.

ROMNEY: Well, you passed the test.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Now, look, almost every measure he took hurt the economy and hurt our fellow Americans. 23 million Americans are struggling to find a good job. One in six of us is poor. And the middle class, the middle class is being squeezed as take-home pay has gone down by $4,300 a year, and the cost of everything from gasoline to health insurance to food to utilities has gone up.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: This weekend I spoke with the wife of a 60-year-old man -- in the prime of his life, I might add --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And he's worked as a welder for 40 years, but he just got laid off. His wife asked what I could do to help them. She made it very clear he doesn't want a government check, he wants a job.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And so the question of this election comes down to this. Do you want four more years like the last four years?

CROWD: No.

ROMNEY: Do you want real change?

CROWD: Yes. ROMNEY: Now, President Obama promised change, but he couldn't deliver it. I not only promise change, I have a record of achieving it.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I built a business, I turned around another one, I helped put Olympics back on track.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And with a Democrat legislature, I helped turn my state from deficit to surplus and from job losses to job growth.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And we went from higher taxes to higher take-home pay. And that's why I'm running for president, because I know how to change the course the nation is on, and I'll do it.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: You see, accomplishing real change is not something I just talk about. It's something I've done, and it's what I'm going to do when I'm president of the United States.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Well, if you like me believe we can do better, and you believe America should be on a better course, if you're tired of being tired, then I ask you to vote and to work for real change, and make that happen tomorrow.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END LIVE FEED)

BURNETT: All right. Obviously we've been listening to Mitt Romney. Both the president and the governor are speaking right now. We're trying to ping-pong for you. So let's send it back now to Barack Obama in Des Moines, Iowa, as he wraps up his speech there.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

B. OBAMA: -- millions of dollars of ads. You know, it all comes down to you. It's out of my hands now. It's in yours. All of it depends on what you do, when you step into that voting booth tomorrow.

It's just a remarkable thing, the way our democracy works. And at a certain point, all this effort and all these campaign rallies, and then it just comes down to each of us, as citizens. All of it depends on you bringing your friend, or your neighbor, your co-worker, your mom, your dad, your wife, your husband to the polls. That's how our democracy is supposed to be.

The single most powerful force in our democracy is you. Moving this country forward begins with you. Don't ever let anybody tell you your vote doesn't matter. Don't let anybody tell you your voice can't make a difference. It makes a difference.

I got a powerful reminder of this myself on our last campaign. Folks in Iowa, I know you may have heard this story, but it was early in the primaries, we were still way down in the polls, and I think this just -- this office had just finally gotten the heat turned on. And at the time I was still competing in South Carolina, it was one of the early primary states. And I really wanted the endorsement of a state representative down there. I'd met her at some function where I was -- nobody knew me, nobody could pronounce my name. They're wondering, what's he thinking?

So I asked her for her endorsement, and she said, I tell you what, Obama, I will give you my endorsement if you come to my hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina. And I think I had a little bit of wine during dinner, because right away I said, OK.

So it's about a month later, and I'm traveling back to South Carolina, and we flew in late at night. I think we were coming from Iowa. We had been campaigning nonstop, traveling all through towns and having town hall meetings and shaking hands. And in between, I'm making phone calls, asking people for support.

So we land in Greenville, South Carolina, at around midnight, we get to the hotel at about 1:00 in the morning. I'm wiped out, I am exhausted. I'm dragging my bags to my room. Back then we didn't fly on Air Force One, and the accommodations were a little different.

And just as I'm about to walk into the room, one of my staff pats me on the shoulder and they say, excuse me, Senator -- I was a senator back then -- we're going to have to wake up and be on the road at 6:30 in the morning. I said, what? Why? Well, you made this promise to go to Greenwood, and it's several hours away.

And you know, I try to keep my promises. So a few hours later, I wake up and I'm feeling terrible. I think a cold's coming on, and I open up the curtains to try to get some light to wake me up, but it's pouring down rain. Terrible storm. And I take a shower and get some coffee, and I -- I open up the newspaper, and there's a bad story about me in the New York Times. I was much more sensitive at that time to bad stories. I've become more accustomed to these now.

And finally, I get dressed, I go downstairs, and I am walking out to the car and my umbrella blows open, and I'm soaked.

So by the time I'm in the car, I'm wet and I'm mad, and I'm still kind of sleepy. And it turns out that Greenwood is several hours away from every place else. So we drive and we drive and we drive. And we drive, and finally we get to Greenwood, although you don't know you're in Greenwood right away, because there's not a lot of tall buildings around.

And we pull up to a small fieldhouse, and I walk in, and I'm looking around. I don't hear a lot going on. And the state representative said she was going to organize a little meeting for us. And we walk in and there's about 20 people there. And they're all kind of wet too, and they don't look very excited to see me. But you know, I'm running for president, so I do what I'm supposed to do. I'm shaking hands, I say, how do you do. Nice to meet you.

And I am making my way around the room, and suddenly I hear this voice cry out behind me, "fired up." And I'm startled, and I don't know what's going on. But everybody in the room -- this is a small room -- they act like this is normal. And when the voice says "fired up," they all say, "ready to go." And so once again, I hear the voice. "Fired up," they said "fired up." They said, "ready to go." "Ready to go."

And so I look around, I turn around, there's this small woman, she's about 60 years old. Looks like she just came from church, got a big church hat. She's looking at me, kind of peering at me and she's grinning, smiling, looking happy. Turns out she's the city council woman from Greenwood who also moonlights as a private detective, I'm not making this up. This is true. And it turns out she's famous throughout the area. When she goes to football games and rallies and she goes to community events, she does this chant of hers. She does it wherever she goes. For the next few minutes she just keeps saying fired up. And everybody says fired up. And she says ready to go. And everybody says ready to go. And I'm thinking, you know, this woman is showing me up. This is my meeting, I'm running for president. And she's dominating the room. And I look at my staff, and they just shrug their shoulders. They don't know what to do. So goes on for a few minutes.

Now, here's the thing, Iowa, after a few minutes I'm feeling kind of fired up. I'm feeling like I'm ready to go. So I start joining in the chant. My staff starts joining in the chant. Suddenly I feel pretty good. And we go on to talk about the lives of the people in the room and their families and their struggles and their hopes for their kids and grandkids. We drive out and it's still raining but it doesn't seem so bad. We go to our next stop and for the rest of the day, even after we left Greenwood, even though we still weren't getting any big crowds any place, even though people still couldn't pronounce my name, I felt good. I'd see my staff and I'd say, "Are you fired up?" They'd say, "Fired up." I'd say, "Are you ready to go?" They'd say, "We're ready to go."

And we brought that to Iowa. During our rallies, this became a chant. We'd have signs saying "Fired up. Ready to go." The woman, her name was Edith Child, she became a celebrity. She was written up in "The Wall Street Journal" and folks did news stories on her. This became one of the anthems of our campaign back in 2008.

Now here's the end of the story, though. We knew we were coming back to Des Moines for the last campaign rally I'll ever do, for me, and so we were getting kind of sentimental and we called up Edith Child. And we said, "Why don't you come on up?" Listen to this. We said why don't you come on up. We'll fly you up from South Carolina and you can do this chant one more time just for old good times' sake. It's like getting the band back together again. And you know what Edith said? She said I'd love to see you, but I think we can still win North Carolina, so I'm taking a crew into North Carolina to knock on doors on Election Day. I don't have time just to be talking about it. I've got to knock on some doors. I'm going to turn out the vote. I'm still fired up, but I got work to do. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And that shows you what one voice can do. One voice can change a room. And if it can change a room, it can change a city. And if it can change a city, it can change a state. And if it can change a state, it can change a nation. And if it can change a nation, it can change the world.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Iowa, in 2008, your voice changed the world. Edith Child asked me to ask you that if you're willing to still stand with me tomorrow, you're willing to get your friends and neighbors and coworkers to the polls tomorrow, if you're willing to make sure we finish what we started, she's pretty sure we'll win Iowa. She's pretty sure we'll win this election. She just had one question for you, and that is: "Are you fired up?

CROWD: Ready to go!

B. OBAMA: Are you fired up?

CROWD: Ready to go!

B. OBAMA:: Are you fired up?

CROWD: Ready to go!

B. OBAMA:: Are you fired up?

CROWD: Ready to go!

B. OBAMA: Iowa, tomorrow, let's remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth. I love you. Let's go vote. Let's keep moving forward. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

(END LIVE FEED)

BURNETT: We just watched Barack Obama with his concluding speech for the campaign in Des Moines, Iowa. Obviously a speech he had prepared for, he had that anecdote at the end about being fired up. A story some may have heard before, but obviously he told again. There he is with Michelle. There had been a very touching moment between them earlier.

Mitt Romney is still speaking in Manchester, New Hampshire. We're going to go back and try to get the end of his speech now so you can hear that as well.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

ROMNEY: My conviction is that better days are ahead, and that's not based on promises and hollow rhetoric, but on solid plans and proven results. And on an unshakable belief in the greatness of the American spirit. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

If there's anyone worried that the last four years are the best we can do, if there's anyone who feels that the American dream is fading away, if there's anyone who wonders whether better jobs or better paychecks are a then of the past, I have a clear and unequivocal message. With the right leadership, America is going to come roaring back.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

The only thing that stands between us and some of the best years we've ever imagined is lack of leadership and that's why we have elections. Tomorrow's a moment to look into the future. And imagine what we can do. To put the past four years behind us, and start building a new future. You saw the differences when President Obama and I were side by side in our debates. He says it has to be this way. I say it can't stay this way. He's offering excuses. I have a plan. He's hoping we'll settle. I can't wait to get started. Americans don't settle. We build, we aspire, we listen to that voice inside that says we can do better.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

That better life. That better life is out there, waiting for us. Our destiny is in your hands. Tomorrow we get to work rebuilding our country. Restoring our confidence and renewing our conviction. Confidence that we're in a solid path to steady improvement. Confidence that college grads will be able to find better jobs when they graduate. Confidence that single moms working two jobs will have a shot at a better job. Tomorrow on November 6th, we come together for a better future. And on November 7th we get to work.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

We reach across the street, I need you to reach across the street to the neighbor with the other yard sign and we'll reach across the aisle in Washington to people of good faith in the other party. And this is much more, because this is much more than our movement, it's America's moment of renewal and purpose and optimism. We have journeyed together far and wide in this great campaign for America's future, and now we're almost home. One final push and we'll get there.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

We have known many long days and short nights and now we're close. The door to a brighter future is there. It's open, it's waiting for us. I need your vote. I need your help. Walk with me. Walk together. Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow. God bless you. God bless New Hampshire. God bless the United States of America. Thank you so very much. Let's win this one tomorrow. Thanks, you guys. Thank you, New Hampshire. Thank you.

(END LIVE FEED) BURNETT: And you have just heard Mitt Romney make his case in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he will spend the night. And he will be campaigning tomorrow. There you go, you got the two, those were significant and long speeches by both of them.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They were. Two closing arguments on election eve. Very different tones in speeches. Very different visions, the contrast could not be clearer, so it's on to Election Day. Mitt Romney will still campaign trying to get every last vote out. President Obama said he's made his case, it's up to the voters, it's in your hands.

BURNETT: That's right, and after that, we're going to take a break, and when we come back we're going to talk about that, the big decision these two men made. What we understand is Barack Obama is not campaigning tomorrow, he's going to play a little basketball. Mitt Romney is making a few stops. Will it be enough? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back. While you can hear the train behind me, I am in Columbus, Ohio. That could be the state, both campaigns have told me today, that's the state that they think is going to be the state that determines this election. We're at the boat house looking over Columbus, Ohio. As the trains go with by, commerce continues in this country.

John Avlon joins me, senior political columnist at "Newsweek" "The Daily Beast," Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and Hogan Gidly, Republican Strategist. Great to see all of you. I want to talk about this issue. You heard the closing arguments from both men, that really is the closing argument for Barack Obama. Mitt Romney not so fast, he's going to be making a few campaign stops tomorrow. So let me start with you, Hogan. Why is Mitt Romney doing that, does he feel he's behind? Does he need to use every single second?

HOGAN GIDLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's not unprecedented. There are a lot of folks out there that still might be trying to make their mind up, and he wants to get out there and show that he's working hard for this. Barack Obama obviously is going to take the day off, he's going to play some basketball, I think it's his campaign Election Day ritual, you can't fault him for that, he's done pretty well doing that so far. I think Governor Romney wants to get out there to make that push to everybody, every voter one last time. He doesn't want to leave any stone unturned. This race is razor thin right now. It is very close, everyone admits that. If there's one thing that could turn somebody at the last second, Governor Romney is going to be out there and he's going to try to push the election to those voters.

BURNETT: Let's talk to John about the enthusiasm here. We have had -- at the CNN poll that came out today, enthusiasm was tied. 70 percent, very enthusiastic about going out and casting their votes on the Republican side, same on the Democratic side.

AVLON: It's fascinating, we've been talking so long about that enthusiasm gap. You look at the early vote numbers, they're actually up from where they were in 2008. Here's one difference, can you see it in those two closing argument speeches. One thing the CNN poll showed is that a lot of Romney's enthusiasm, 37 percent was primarily about the opposing President Obama rather than being primarily in favor of their candidate. Whereas only 12 percent of President Obama supporters say they're against Mitt Romney. That translates. That translates into message, rhetoric. You saw those two speeches. Mitt Romney was running against President Obama's record. And President Obama in with a wash going back to where it all began for him, giving a very personal, very heartfelt speech that was very positive and forward looking. That message does translate. It echoes in the closing argument. It's fascinating, we have a close race, both parties fired up really getting their votes to the poll tomorrow.

BURNETT: And Maria, what do you think about the other crucial issue. Obviously Mitt Romney was talking about what Obama has not achieved, and why he would be different. But what about this independents and what they're going to responded to. That's the other thing our polls showed, that right now Mitt Romney leads nationally independents by three points over Barack Obama, they're a coveted group. So can he do it without them? Can he do it with that gap?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Certainly. And it's not unprecedented. In 2004, George Bush lost independents and still won the election. So it certainly isn't unprecedented. I think it all depends on what are the numbers of President Obama's coalition. The wide array of voters that he's counting on to come out to vote tomorrow. What are those percentages? So, if those percentages equal or surpass, they probably would need to surpass what they are in 2008, I think he can lose independents. And the other question is, I would love to hear John Avlon's take on this, since he is one if those independents. What is really the percentage of independent voters in what the voting pool is going to be tomorrow? We've seen, I think a shrinking like we've never seen before, in this election cycle of true independents. So I'm not all that worried about that independent number, Erin, I'm just very focused. And what I'm going to be watching out for tomorrow is whether the coalition of voters that President Obama needs is going to come out. We saw Michelle Obama beautifully go through all of them, women, Latinos, talking about the American dream, young students, even seniors and veterans and the LGBT community when she said "it doesn't matter who you love." And it was a beautiful passing of the baton to President Obama's speech.

AVLON: Yes, I would just say, the fascinating that Mitt Romney has an edge among independents. But what's happening this election is something different. President Obama has a 20 point lead with centrists -- self-identified moderate voters. In the past, those two groups have been largely in line. One of the reasons we're seeing a gap for the first time is the impact of the Tea Party. Conservative independents moving the independent cohort slightly so the right. It's going to be a real question about whether he can run those numbers up with other voters in the center. It's a broader coalition question, it's a fascinating dynamic in this case.

BURNETT: And Hogan, in 10 seconds. Will we know tomorrow night the winner? GIDLEY: I have no idea, but it's obvious he's going after those independents. The most poignant moment in those debates is when he laid out the promise the President made in his campaign and he didn't come through on. He's doing that in his closing arguments.

BURNET: Thanks so much to all three of you. We appreciate it.

Election day, just moments away, and it begins in Dixville Notch. We're going to take you there in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Polls in this crucial state where we are tonight, Columbus, Ohio open in less than seven hours. Let me bring in John Avlon. In a few moments, Dixville Notch New Hampshire, polls are going to open. First votes in the country. Tell us a little bit about this place. You've been there.

AVLON: Dixville Notch is one of these legendary places in American politics. It's the first to cast their vote in the New Hampshire primary and on election night. It's a tiny town in the northern border of New Hampshire, and it really is sort of this political pilgrimage spot that we always go to watch. It's only a handful of votes, but it's a great American tradition. There's something poignant about tonight, the closing arguments we heard. President Obama in Iowa, where he won that first caucus that no one thought he could win in 2008, with the rally right outside where his headquarters were, and Mitt Romney in New Hampshire where Dixville Notch is, he was in the southern part of the state, Manchester. It's all back to where the primaries began, where the presidential cycle begins, here we are, it's back to New Hampshire and Iowa, two major swing states, battleground states at stake tomorrow.

BURNETT: There's something special about that, it makes you think about the great moments in American politics. Also highlights for so many, how it is more than ever, it seems only some states matter.

AVLON: It is. Unfortunately, it comes down to around nine states, but they are hotly contested. And they are these states that are swing. They're not liberal they're not conservative, it's a great American tradition.

BURNETT: Thanks so much to John Avlon, and to all of you for watching. We'll be back here tomorrow at 2:00 Eastern with a special Election Day of OUTFRONT. And I'll be here in Columbus al night for CNN's election in America. Our live coverage starts at 6:00 Eastern. Thanks for watching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Good evening or should I say good morning? Breaking news. Election Day has officially begun and the first votes in the nation from the voters of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, are being cast.

CNN's David Mattingly is there. David, how are you? David, can you hear me?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Piers, what we're seeing right here is a slice of Americana, a great tradition here in the northern part of New Hampshire. The entire town of Dixville Notch, all ten of them, turn out, they vote at once at the stroke of midnight. They've already filled out their ballots, they've already put them into the box. They're no retrieving them right now and they're going to count them.

Right now we're looking at a voting population here that is two registered Democrats, three registered Republicans and five registered Independents. Four years ago, Barack Obama won here over John McCain. It was a little bit of a change, because Dixville Notch has been known to being very fond of Republicans. Barack Obama was the first Democrat to get the nod here since Hubert Humphrey in 1968.

So tonight we're looking to see what Dixville Notch will do in this election cycle. Don't go away. It's only going to take a couple minutes to go through the ten ballots and then they're going to post the results.

MORGAN: I heard it's like a big competition down there in this area of northern New Hampshire, because there's Hart's Location, which is classified as a town. And then there's Dixville Notch, which is a precinct. And Hart's has 37 people who vote - apparently there were 36, but one more raced in at the last minute -- and Dixville Notch has the ten. But Dixville Notch wins by being smaller, is that the idea?

MATTINGLY: That's right. They win because they only have ten votes to count. They'll be able to count them much quicker; they'll be able to post their results much more quickly. That's why they're able to hold on to the title of the first voting town in the United States.

I keep looking over my shoulder here. This isn't going to take by just a minute or two. And when they do, they'll stop, they'll announce --

MORGAN: David, can I ask a question? How long does it take to count ten votes?

MATTINGLY: Well, you have to remember there's a ballot here with not just the presidential race on it; there's gubernatorial, congressional and several other issues on the ballot here and they're doing it all by hand. They want to make sure they get it right, obviously. If they were just doing the presidential election, we'd be done just like that. But they have a couple of other things to count and that's what we're waiting for.

MORGAN: Do they ever have recounts?

MATTINGLY: No, no history of that here. They're pretty certain about the short number of votes they have and the actual total they get. In fact, there's going to be very little room for doubt here, because prior to the actual voting tonight, they actually opened up the voting box and showed us the inside and it was empty. So there were no other ballots in there to count. MORGAN: And I'm told as an indicator of what may happen in the main election --

MATTINGLY: Oh, Piers, here we go.

MORGAN: Breaking news, here we go.

MATTINGLY: Yes, here we go. Dixville Notch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have some results. We'll start with Congress. For Congress, we have six votes for Charlie Bass. One vote for (INAUDIBLE) and three votes for Kuster. For governor, we have seven votes for LaMontagne and three votes for Hassan. For president, this has never happened before in Dixville. We have a tie. Five votes each.

MATTINGLY: Wow. You know what, Piers? New Hampshire, the polling has shown just how tight this race is. The polls have been showing dead even statewide and now Dixville Notch has just confirmed that. Five votes apiece for Barack Obama and Governor Romney, so right now an absolute tie. No one can claim any sort of advantage in the Granite State. And it's going to be a long Election Day before someone can.

MORGAN: I'll tell you what, that is a fantastic piece of history. Never been a tie before in the history of this tiny vote. Ten people voting, five apiece. I mean, if any result could at the very start of this voting process tell the story, this surely is it. This is a close race.

MATTINGLY: That's right. And there's also a subtext to this. You notice we have five independent voters here, people who aren't declared for either party. Clearly Barack Obama got more votes from the independents than Governor Romney did. But we cannot look at this and determine that there's going to be any kind of trend here. These are just ten votes out of over 700,000 that are going to be cast in this state. So at this point, it's just again for bragging rights for Dixville Notch that they are indeed the first in the nation.

MORGAN: And it's worth reminding that in 1960, apparently, Richard Nixon defeated Congressman John F. Kennedy 9-0 in Dixville Notch. That didn't really work out for him in the long-term, so it may not be that big an indicator. But certainly what a moment of history: Dixville Notch records its first-ever tie in what many are saying is going to be the closest race we've had in a very long time.

David Mattingly, thank you very much.

President Obama's made his final appeal. Mitt Romney will still campaign, but now it's all in the hands of America's voters. Joining me now, "New York Times" op-ed columnist, Charles Blow; Carol Roth, business strategist and best-selling author; and Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed.com. Welcome to all of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. MORGAN: So a moment of history there, the first-ever tie in Dixville Notch at the start of the election. What do you make of that, Charles Blow?

CHARLES BLOW, "NEW YORK TIMES" OP-ED COLUMNIST: Are you going to start with me? I don't know what I just saw. It's like ten votes. I mean, it's fantastic, it's nice and it's sweet, but I don't think it tells us very much, if anything, about tomorrow. And like you said, at the end of the piece, it's 700,000 votes that are going to be cast in New Hampshire tomorrow. And I think we do have to wait.

I don't think, though, that it will be quite as close as people think it will be. I mean I think that what we've seen in the national polls and also in the state polls is a little bit of an uptick for Obama. So I think that the Democrats are cautiously optimistic about tomorrow. And Mitt Romney is hoping that everything breaks in his favor, but that's a long shot. That's a real long shot. So I think at this hour, going into tomorrow, the Democrats have a little bit of wind at their back.

MORGAN: Ben Smith, what I thought was interesting about that result in Dixville Notch, which is a fantastically quaint ceremony, but the reality was that all the independents, I think, or at least four of the five, maybe all of them, had voted for Barack Obama and not Mitt Romney. Is that an ominous sign for Govenor Romney that already the independents he needs so desperately appear to be swaying to the president?

BEN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF BUZZFEED.COM: I'm not sure I want to read a whole lot into that although, you know, I do think the absolute nightmare scenario for this election is what you just saw there, something close to a tie, something that does not resolve tomorrow, tonight. And I think that is something both campaigns are genuinely worried and it would certainly not be good for the country.

MORGAN: I certainly agree. It could be a total nightmare. Charles, let's play a clip of President Obama in his final ever campaign speech. A very poignant one. I watched it. It went quite a long time, as did Governor Romney's, but this was the last time we'll see one of the great political campaigners in modern American history do his stuff. Watch a bit of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I want to thank you. You took this campaign and you made it your own and you organized yourself block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, county by county, starting a movement that spread across the country. A movement made up of young and old and rich and poor and black and white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, Democrats, Republicans, who believe we've all got something to contribute.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You know, I thought it was a fantastic speech, I have to say. He told one of the longest anecdotes of all time at the end, but actually even that was quite moving. But what I was left again with was if Barack Obama loses this on a knife edge, as he still could possibly do so, you'd have to say where has that passion been earlier in this campaign?

Charles Blow, where has it been? This is not the Obama we saw in the first debate, for example. Why has he been waiting so late to unleash the Obama we all fell in love with in '08?

BLOW: Well, I think that part of it is that Barack Obama responds to energy and I think that now that it's getting down to the wire, he's responding in kind to the energy that he's feeling from voters, from the rallies, he's really feeling himself up against it. And you know it's kind of like what it is, kind of basketball analogies where somebody pulls it out in the clutch every time. There's your go-to guy. I think he kind of has that part of him where you may not necessarily be there when you think that he should show up and do what you know he's capable of doing, but he does come around to giving you that fire.

I think that what you're seeing tonight, I watched both he and Mitt Romney tonight, and there's a stark difference in their personas, the way that they're speaking tonight. Barack Obama sounds very much engaged and fired up and Mitt Romney does not have that fire in the gut in the speeches he's giving tonight in the closing of this campaign. And that will make the difference, I think, for a lot of people who are - you know, the fence-sitters who said, well, I didn't have enough information. Well, at this point, you're not going to have enough information. You're going to go with your gut at this point, if you haven't gone with the facts so far.

MORGAN: I think that's a pretty good point. Let's bring in Carol Roth, who's joining us by phone now I think. Carol, I don't know if you saw either of the speeches tonight, but Governor Romney, he made a pretty good speech, but it didn't have the kind of firebrand impact of Obama's last speech tonight. And I sort of agree with Charles Blow. I think it matters. It's all about demeanor and how you're looking in these latter stages. It can send it over the edge for the independents in particular.

CAROL ROTH, BUSINESS STRATEGIST, N.Y. TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (via telephone): You know, Piers, I really think that the momentum has already been had here and I think most people at this point have made up their mind. And I don't know that these last-minute speeches are going to put everybody over the edge.

What I think is going to happen here is 2012 is the year of the underdog. And I do not care what these polls are saying or what the predictions are. Every single prediction that has been made in this race thus far has been completely wrong. I sat here with you during the primaries and we saw Michele Bachmann, we saw Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all be crowned somebody who is going to get the nomination for the Republican Party. Didn't happen. Nobody picked Paul Ryan. Nobody knew the momentum was going to swing on the first debate.

So all we can do is expect the unexpected. That tie to start us off is a perfect example and I think that -- stay tuned. It would be very anti-climatic for this to go completely as planned. I think we're going to be in for a very nice surprise here.

MORGAN: Was a bit (INAUDIBLE), I think. Ben Smith, where do you think the real battleground's going to be? People are talking a lot about Ohio, but a little movement in Pennsylvania, you know, other areas, Florida. The Democrats still saying it could not go Romney's way. All these things could be pivotal, really, to how the election washes up. Where will you be focused right from the get-go tomorrow night?

SMITH: Look, Mitt Romney has -- Obama has a lot of paths to victory. Romney has very few. They're going to be through the beginning of the night, there's going to be states like Virginia, like Florida. The polls close there. If Obama wins those states, pretty much over. Romney needs to run the table, Romney needs to do well in Ohio, Romney could do well in Pennsylvania. I mean, those are the places, those are really must-wins for him.

MORGAN: Charles Blow, when you look at both campaigns from start to finish, who do you think has run the better campaign? Putting aside any allegiance to either camp, who's run the better campaign?

BLOW: Well, I think that this campaign has been what most campaigns are, a series of ups and downs for both sides, right, and so there have been some performance issues and the first debate was a performance issue for Barack Obama. But what Mitt Romney has not been able to do has been to get enough momentum to ever get himself over a hump and kept shooting himself in the foot either by things coming out that he didn't time or actually saying things in real time that did him real damage.

And so Mitt Romney was never able to take advantage of a bit of momentum and ride that to a leading position over Barack Obama. And I think that that, at the end of the day, will be a real issue that Republicans will look back and say we did not put forth the best candidate to run against Barack Obama in this election.

MORGAN: Carol Roth, do you agree with that?

ROTH: I do not agree with that. I think that Mitt Romney is the best candidate to run against Barack Obama, but I do have to give props to the Obama campaign. The fact that he's still in it given what's going on with the economy and the financial situation in this country means that he's run a very, very good campaign. I think at the end of the day that emotions went out, viewers and voters are all tuned into their favorite radio station, which is WIIFM, "What's In It For Me" and what's happening in their own backyard. And I think the emotion is what's going to drive these final results and that's why Mitt Romney's going to win.

MORGAN: OK, let's cut to the quick here, because we've been doing these for 18 months. Let's get to a prediction. Ben Smith, who's going to win this election and what will the margin be?

SMITH: You're always trying to pin me down, but the polls -- if you believe the polls, Barack Obama's going to win. If Mitt Romney wins, it'll be because something was very, very wrong with lots of polls.

MORGAN: Charles Blow?

BLOW: I agree with Ben's assessment. It has to be that the polls are completely wrong and the modeling is completely wrong. If the modeling is right, and if the polls are right, Barack Obama has the edge to win tomorrow.

MORGAN: Carol?

ROTH: The modeling is not right. Garbage in, garbage out. Mitt Romney wins.

MORGAN: Do you really believe that?

ROTH: I do.

MORGAN: See, I'm sort of backing everything on Nate Silver, who I've interviewed quite a few times now and I've grown to be very, very fond as a pollster's pollster. He studies more of the data on these polls than anybody alive and he's taken Obama tonight with 91 percent probability. That's pretty conclusive.

ROTH: But all he does -- wait, wait. But, Piers, all he does is averages polls so that assumes that the modeling and the input are correct. If the assumptions aren't correct, then his modeling can't make the prediction. I think that the assumptions aren't correct and that's going to be the deciding factor.

MORGAN: Well, we shortly -- the great news is we're going to find out now, because it's been going on for almost as long as I feel like I've been alive. But thank you, all three of you. It'll be a very exciting night. All, of course, live on CNN.

When we come back, a man who's been hypercritical of President Obama, and ran for president himself, Newt Gingrich.