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Obama, Romney teams project confidence amid tight poll numbers

 

Surrogates for President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney projected outward confidence on Sunday in each candidate's ability to win on Election Day.

As the final NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll showed a close race nationally between the two candidates, their top supporters squabbled over who held the upper hand in critical battleground states.

"I'm very confident that, two days out from Election Day, the president's going to be re-elected on Tuesday night," said David Plouffe, a White House adviser who managed the president's 2008 campaign, on "Meet the Press."

There are seven states, worth 89 electoral votes, considered true "toss-up" states on NBC News' battleground map: Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, Florida and New Hampshire. Other competitive states include Nevada, which has leaned slightly for Obama in recent polls, and North Carolina, which has tended toward Romney in many recent polls.

"All these states right now, we think the president's in a good position to win," Plouffe said.

Both Obama and Romney spent Saturday barnstorming these battleground states in hope of shoring up their base and shaking loose prized undecided voters in the final hours of the campaign. But their professed confidence belied a much more competitive battle for the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency, especially as an uncertain finale loomed over the 2012 campaign.

The Romney campaign said its Sunday schedule — which took the former Massachusetts governor to Pennsylvania and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to Minnesota — both states which Republicans have only contested as of late — was a sign of surging national momentum. But Democrats castigated those trips as a sign of desperation, as Romney scrambled for new pathways to 270.

One of the most hotly contested battleground states includes Virginia, which Obama has put into play in 2008 and again in 2012. It also has one of the earliest poll closing times in the nation on Tuesday, and could offer political observers an early indicator of the trend lines in the election.

"We're going to win this state, and I think we're going to win it a lot bigger than people are predicting," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican who represents a Richmond-area district.

He added: "I see here on the ground, there is a lot of enthusiasm for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."

But political bravado is a well-worn tradition for the closing days of the elections, and Plouffe was quick to seize upon Romney's plans to spend some of his final campaign stops in Virginia and Florida, two states he might not be able to afford losing come Tuesday night.

"We think Gov. Romney's playing defense," the White House aide said of Virginia and Florida. "I'd rather be the president today than Gov. Romney in terms of those two states."

Plouffe also characterized the Obama campaign's position in Iowa and Ohio — two footholds of the president's Midwestern "firewall" — as "commanding," though he cautioned the campaign must execute its get-out-the-vote efforts on Tuesday if it is to secure those states.

Follow the final weekend of the campaign with NBC Politics: