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Mitt Romney's last dash to mobilise the battleground states

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the campaign trail in Ohio. Photo: Reuters

We spent yesterday trawling for votes with Mitt Romney in Ohio. We passed through cities like Cincinnati and Columbus and ended up in the rural north-west, in the small town of Defiance.

The town's name is apt for a campaign that has defied the odds. Until six weeks ago political analysts had largely written off Mr Romney as a flawed man destined to lose this race.

To travel inside the Romney security bubble is to gain little personal access. He is surrounded by the Secret Service, protective advisers and nervous handlers.

But we did glimpse a scripted, cautious, disciplined, risk-averse politician.

Mr Romney remains, at heart, a management consultant. He talks like one; he organises his campaign as if he still works at Bain Capital.

Mitt Romney speaks in the town of Defiance, Ohio. Credit: Reuters

His message is not inspirational. It's organisational. This is more PowerPoint than poetry.

He never interacts directly with the press that travels with him. We are not exactly the enemy, but Mr Romney sees us like a soldier would view a minefield: a potentially lethal obstacle to be overcome.

But let's be fair to Mitt. He has a message that resonates with many people.

When he talks about the national debt weighing down families and destroying the American Dream, the crowd nods vigorously in agreement.

The idea of a businessman in the White House is seductive. Many Americans believe his financial acumen would speed up the desperately weak economic recovery.

Mitt Romney is joined by Randy Owen (L) and Meat Loaf (C) as they sing "God Bless America" at a campaign rally in Defiance, Ohio. Credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The polls suggest he might - just might - pull off a victory in 11 days time.

He could well win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado. That would put him tantalisingly close. He can almost smell Air Force One, the White House and the inside of the Beast, the Presidential limousine.

But he still needs Ohio. And at this stage that is not likely to happen.

President Obama still enjoys an edge in this state, largely thanks to the widely held view that his bail-out of Detroit saved the American car industry from extinction.

Republican presidential nominee Romney speaks during a campaign stop at Jet Machine in Cincinnati Credit: Reuters

So he must win over more voters in battleground states. He must mobilise core Republican support in Ohio. He's running out of time. And he lacks the political skills to excite people.

From the anecdotal evidence we saw on the campaign trail today - seeing how he struggles to truly connect - he may fall just short of victory.

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