Mitt Romney makes election day campaign stop in Pittsburgh

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PITTSBURGH —

Hundreds of people gathered on a parking garage at Pittsburgh International Airport Tuesday as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made a campaign appearance in Pittsburgh.

Romney arrived at the airport just before 3 p.m. Police kept onlookers at a distance from the Atlantic Aviation terminal where Romney arrived. He walked across the tarmac, smiled and waved at the cheering crowd and was whisked away in a motorcade.

Romney then went to his headquarters in Green Tree where he greeted supporters at the office.

Mary Kay O’Donnell was at the Romney headquarters when he arrived.

“He was very warm and appreciative of all of our efforts. He said he was looking forward to tomorrow as president,” O’Donnell said.

The campaign has amplified its presence in Pennsylvania with more aggressive advertising in the days before the presidential election.

“I’m with Romney because I don’t want anymore of Obama. Romney is an experience, successful businessman and that’s what we need in front of our country today,” Romney supporter Ava Sandstrom said.

“I’m a small business owner myself, and I built my business, not the government. They may have paved the roads to my house, but I did the rest myself,” Romney supporter Michael Straight said.

“I think just the energy and excitement of being here with other supporters is exciting,” said Valerie Bartels, 46, of Mount Washington. Her husband Brian Bartels, 51, said he was a little disappointed that Romney wasn’t expected at public events Tuesday in the region.

“But I understand the safety concerns as well as the security concerns,” he said.

 “I was just hoping to feel the energy of the crowd. But at this point, I’d be happy just to see his airplane,” said Joni Tierney, 48, of Cranberry Township.

Romney, who began his day in Massachusetts, where he cast a ballot, also traveled Tuesday to the battleground state of Ohio.

"This is a big day for big change," Romney told staffers and volunteers at a Cleveland-area campaign office.

His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, followed a similar strategy. After voting in his Wisconsin hometown, Ryan joined Romney in Ohio before a scheduled solo visit to Richmond, Va.

Asked about the hectic schedule in recent days, Ryan said of Romney: "He's kind of operating on fumes."

After visiting the campaign office, the pair stopped for lunch at a Wendy's, where Romney ordered a quarter-pounder, chili and a Frosty. Ryan ordered a quarter-pounder and a salad.

Both were returning to Boston later in the evening to await the election returns.

Earlier Tuesday, Romney told reporters he was feeling "very good" as he and his wife, Ann, appeared at a polling precinct near his Belmont, Mass., home just before 9 a.m. EST to vote.

Romney spent less than three minutes completing his ballot. Asked who he voted for, he said with a smile: "I think you know." It was the first time he had answered a direct question from his traveling press corps since late September.

"If we get folks out we'll have the real change that we really need in this country," Romney said. He waged a marathon day of campaigning in five swing states on Monday, which was supposed to be his last day on the trail.

Romney's focus on Ohio is not a surprise. He has spent more time campaigning there over the last year than any other state. And no Republican has won the presidency without carrying the Midwestern battleground.

But Romney has spent very little time in Pennsylvania, which hasn't supported a Republican presidential contender in nearly a quarter-century. As polls showed the race tightening there, Romney launched a statewide advertising campaign just last week.

Dismissed as desperation by Democrats, the Pennsylvania trip will at the very least send a message that Romney did all he could to deny Obama a second term.

"We can't let up now. We need to keep going until the final polls close tomorrow night," Romney political director Rich Beeson wrote supporters Monday. "With an election this important, let's leave it all on the field."

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE and The Associated Press contributed to this report.