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Obama goes for notes of Reagan in Madison, Wis.

November 05, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • President Obama waives to supporters gathered near the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison.
President Obama waives to supporters gathered near the Wisconsin Capitol… (Scott Bauer / Associated…)

MADISON, Wis. -- On Sunday, President Obama leaned on Bill Clinton in his final push for reelection. On Monday, it was Ronald Reagan.

In his first remarks on his last day as a candidate, Obama evoked some inspirational, if familiar, political imagery.

His campaign is about the future, the children who “will be our saving grace,” he said.

“That’s what will propel us forward. That’s what will make American continue to be this shining light on a hill,” Obama said to a crowd of 18,000 gathered in the state capital.

Obama’s nod to Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” was a one-line addition to Obama’s closing stump speech. The speech includes lofty rhetoric reminding Democrats of his historic campaign four years ago. It also tries to convince the few remaining undecided voters that he’s capable of working across the aisle.

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The president has praised the Republican icon before. He angered many Democrats in 2008, during his bid for the Democratic nomination, by seeming to compare himself to Reagan, saying that the Republican “changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, in a way that Bill Clinton did not.” Obama was in a primary fight against Hillary Rodham Clinton at the time. He campaigned with the former president in New Hampshire on Sunday.

Reagan tapped into a sense of optimism and “dynamism,” then-Sen. Barack Obama said.

Reagan also managed to win a second term and that may be why he was on Obama’s mind Monday.

The president moved from Madison to Columbus for his second-to-last rally of his campaign. He’ll end his day in Des Moines, joined by the First Lady Michelle Obama, before going to Chicago for election day.

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kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter: @khennessey

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