Washington, (IANS) Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Friday offered their competing visions for America with the president claiming real progress in the last four years and the Republican challenger focusing on the still struggling economy.
The final arguments by the two contenders in an extremely close White House race came in op-eds published by CNN hours before the latest government jobs report showed the US economy adding 171,000 jobs in October, well above what economists had expected.
But unemployment rose slightly to 7.9 percent, the Labour Department said in the highly anticipated report just four days before the election, with the media highlighting how it may have a major impact in a presidential race where economy has played a central role.
Obama started his vision on a bipartisan note discussing the impact of Hurricane Sandy saying “when hardship hits, America is at its best. The petty differences that consume us in normal times quickly melt away”.
“There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm — only fellow Americans,” said the president who has won all round praise for his handling of the disaster, including from the Republican governor Chris Christy of the worst hit New Jersey.
Highlighting his successes – end of Iraq War, the death of Osama bin Laden, creation of more than five million new jobs and bounce back of the auto industry, he said: “We’re not there yet.”
“But we’ve made real progress. And on Tuesday, America will get to choose between two fundamentally different visions of what makes America strong,” Obama said highlighting the strength of the middle class in building America’s prosperity.
“We don’t succeed when a few at the top do well while everyone else struggles to get by — we’re better off when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.”
He also invoked the success of the highly popular former Democratic president Bill Clinton credited with creating “the biggest surplus in history” and warned that the path Romney offered was the one tried during the eight disastrous Bush Years.
Romney in his closing arguments suggested that “America is a land of opportunity. But lately, for too many Americans, opportunity has not exactly come knocking” with America “mired in an economic slowdown” that has left millions unemployed.
Touting his “economic recovery plan consisting of five central elements that will in four years create 12 million jobs” the challenger vowed to “make trade work for America”, “restore fiscal sanity to Washington” and “championing small business”.
“Nothing is ever easy in Washington, but these goals are rooted in bipartisan agreement, and I will work with members of both parties to accomplish them,” said Romney highlighting his successes as the governor of Massachusetts, “a state that was overwhelmingly Democratic”.
Highlighting his credentials as a man of business, he said: “the problems we need to overcome now are not bigger than we are. We can defeat them. I am offering real change and a real choice.”