By Steve Holland
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney offered his closing argument to voters on Friday, asking Americans to decide whether they want more of the same from President Barack Obama or "real change" by electing him on Tuesday.
Making a last-minute foray into Wisconsin, a state Obama won in 2008 but that may be in play this year, Romney seized on a small uptick in the U.S. jobless rate, from 7.8 percent in September to 7.9 percent in October, as evidence that the president's policies are not providing a sufficiently speedy recovery.
"The question of this election comes down to this: do you want more of the same or do you want real change?" Romney told a boisterous crowd in a Milwaukee suburb that was fired up by introductory remarks from legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr.
Romney could use an upset win in Wisconsin, home state of his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, to help offset a possible defeat in Ohio, a crucial state where the Democratic president holds a small lead. Romney was to hold two events in Ohio later on Friday.
The former governor of Massachusetts laid out his case for defeating Obama in a formal speech for which he used a teleprompter. It marked the start of the last, frantic four days of campaigning with stops planned in the states where the election will be decided including New Hampshire, Colorado and Iowa.
WIDENING THE MAP
Facing a narrow path to the 270 electoral votes needed for election, Romney will also make a late push into typically Democratic Pennsylvania on Sunday to see if he can take advantage of tightening polls there, a stop that Democrats say smacks of desperation.
Romney appeared upbeat as he began the last days of campaigning, playfully tugging on a duffel bag carried by senior aide Stuart Stevens to make it heavier to carry as the two boarded his plane.
In his speech, Romney said Washington, under Obama, is frozen in partisan gridlock that the president has been unable to break in the face of intractable budget and debt woes. He pledged to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats.
"You know that if the president is re-elected, he will still be unable to work with the people in Congress. He has ignored them, attacked them, blamed them. The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy," said Romney.
With polls showing the race is dead even, Romney urged voters not to settle for the Democratic incumbent but to instead give him a chance.
"This is not a time for America to settle," he said. "We're four days from a fresh start, four days away from a new beginning."
It was Romney's first campaign stop in Wisconsin since August. The state has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, but Romney hoped to benefit from lingering voter passions from Republican Governor Scott Walker's victory in a recount battle in June.
"We're going to do something that surprises a few people in the White House that are there right now, and that is we're going to win Wisconsin," Romney told an overflow crowd outside of his main event.
Romney sought to use his choice of Ryan to his ticket to pick up steam in Wisconsin, saying that next to his wife, Ann Romney, "Paul Ryan is the best choice I ever made."
(Editing By Alistair Bell and Vicki Allen)
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