Campaign 2012 packed frantic suspense to the finish, with Vice President Joe Biden flying in unannounced next to Republican Mitt Romney's campaign plane in battleground Ohio on Tuesday even as voters across the country were deciding who would win the White House.
President Barack Obama stayed in hometown Chicago, reaching out to swing-state voters on the phones and via satellite while the other three men on the rival tickets had a high noon face-off near the shore of Lake Erie.
Romney and running mate Paul Ryan had scheduled the stop together just Monday, and Biden's plane arrived between the two to play defense in the state that's critical to the victory plan for both sides. The vice president rolled off the tarmac without comment to the surprised media traveling on his plane, just as Ryan's charter was pulling in for a landing.
Romney said the eleventh-hour campaigning was meant to leave him with no regrets.
"I can't imagine an election being won or lost by, let's say, a few hundred votes and you spent your day sitting around," Romney told Richmond radio station WRVA earlier in the day. "I mean, you'd say to yourself, 'Holy cow, why didn't I keep working?' And so I'm going to make sure I never have to look back with anything other than the greatest degree of satisfaction on this whole campaign."
Meanwhile, Americans headed into polling places in sleepy hollows, bustling cities and superstorm-ravaged beach towns deeply divided. All sides are awaiting, in particular, a verdict from the nine battleground states whose votes will determine which man can piece together the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.
Obama has more options for getting there. So Romney decided to make the late dash to Cleveland and Pittsburgh on Tuesday while running mate Ryan threw in another stop in Richmond, Va.
Obama visited a campaign office close to his home in Chicago and was met by applause and tears from volunteers before he picked up a phone to call voters in neighboring Wisconsin. He told reporters that the election comes down to which side can get the most supporters to turn out.
"I also want to say to Gov. Romney, 'Congratulations on a spirited campaign.' I know his supporters are just as engaged, just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today," the president said.
Image: A guest poses for a photo with a cutaway board depicting U.S. President and Democratic party candidate Barack Obama, right, during the Election Night reception at the U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul's residence Spaso House, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 6.