At Obama’s events, the warm-up is all about him, though he often throws an affectionate nod to other candidates in attendance and asks the audience to support them.
6:15 p.m. Los Angeles.
Obama lands at Los Angeles en route to The Tonight Show. He bounds off of the plane, delivers a snappy salute to the military personnel at the bottom of the stairs and jogs to Marine One, waiting on the tarmac. Unlike Romney, who travels by motorcade, Obama has access to the presidential helicopter.
As the president boards, accompanying media, some campaign staff, and support personnel board two military helicopters that follow Marine One to Burbank’s airport. It’s only about 30 miles between the airports but the choppers are used instead of a motorcade to avoid traffic congestion in a city known for congested traffic.
Aboard the support helicopters, the passengers are given earplugs because the noise is considerable. The rear ramps of the choppers remain open and one door has an open window. The choppers fly over the coast and over some valleys during a 10-minute sunset flight.
8:20 p.m. Cleveland.
An airport rally features the best campaign prop an incumbent president has — Air Force One. The white, powder blue, darker blue and gold aircraft lands to the cheers of 12,000 people.
The plane in Cleveland isn’t the familiar military version of a 747 that Obama used earlier in the day at stops in Tampa and Richmond, Va. Because the Cleveland airport’s runway is too short to accommodate the giant presidential plane, Obama switched to a slightly smaller Boeing C-32 — a version of the 757 — normally reserved for Vice President Joe Biden. Any Air Force aircraft with the president on board is designated Air Force One.
Big plane or no, the crowed reveled in Air Force One’s arrival and slow taxi to the stage where Obama was to speak. The crowd cheered wildly as the door to the aircraft opened and Obama made his way down the stairs to the stage.
Romney has his own plane, too — a 1990 MD-83 built by McDonnell Douglas — emblazed with “Believe in America” on the side and an “R” for Romney on the tail. It was previously used by the rock band U2.
Before Romney appears, a local pastor takes the stage at the civic center. The 10,000 supporters — as well as dozens of campaign staffers and volunteers — bow their heads in prayer.
“If we ever needed God in America, we need him now,” the pastor says. A cheer erupts when he mentions Jerusalem.
Campaign rallies don’t always start with a prayer, but they are more likely at a Republican event than a Democratic one.
The local congressman, Jeff Miller, mentions Obama’s much-criticized 2008 remark about religion.
“Here we are again, clinging to our guns and our religion,” Miller says to cheers.
With Obama in Nashua, outside the Elm Street Middle School for a rally. Quite a contrast to the Romney events: James Taylor is singing, and it looks like he’s going through a catalog of his greatest hits. But in this swing state, should he really be singing Carolina In My Mind?
When Obama’s arrives, Taylor is singing, “Whenever I see your smiling face … ”