By Rachel Streitfeld
COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) — Mitt Romney did not spend the final hours of the presidential race in his hometown, as is traditional for a candidate, but instead embarked upon a last-minute push for votes in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The two Election Day campaign stops, which were added to the schedule Monday afternoon, cap a campaign season of upheaval, unconventional moves and late-in-the-game surges that make Tuesday’s outcome difficult to predict.
Romney woke up at home in Belmont, Massachusetts, on Tuesday morning. He and his wife, Ann, voted at their local polling place before the campaign charter took off for the heavily contested area of middle America known as the Rust Belt.
The GOP presidential nominee made two quick, informal stops in Cleveland and Pittsburgh to thank volunteers and help with get-out-the-vote efforts.
Romney and running mate, Paul Ryan also stopped for a quick lunch at a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant in Cleveland. Surrounded by cameras, Romney ordered a regular quarter-pounder without cheese, baked potato with chili while Ryan settled for a No. 1 with iced tea (sweet).
“We figured because Wendy’s was invented in Ohio there’s no better place to get lunch than at Wendy’s, right?” Romney said in a phone call to the restaurant’s supervisor, which was caught on camera.
Romney has spent time in Ohio almost every day this week, and his campaign says a rising tide of momentum has put Pennsylvania in play for the White House hopeful.
But top advisers, almost all of whom were traveling with the candidate as the race came to a close, were immediately confronted with questions about whether the decision to campaign on Election Day signaled an unease with the state of the race.
Though polls in Ohio have tightened considerably over the last month, President Obama has maintained a stubborn lead there. Romney officials point out Obama’s leads are often within polls’ margins of error.
A senior Romney adviser also told reporters that campaigning on Election Day was the new normal. Both Obama and Sen. John McCain made stops on voting day in 2008, as did George W. Bush and John Kerry in 2004.
On Election Day eve, Romney sought to portray victory as Tuesday’s likely outcome, and cited the enthusiastic audiences who greeted him in four states as proof.
“If anyone out there that’s following American politics wants to know where the energy is, just come right here in this room and you’ll see it,” he told a crowd of 8,500 in Fairfax, Virginia. “I am looking around to see if we have the Beatles here or something to have brought you but it looks like you came just for the campaign, and I appreciate it.”
A senior Romney adviser said that the Election Day campaigning will help “keep the energy going” until the polls close. The idea is that the campaign is “just going to keep working up until the polls close,” said the same Romney adviser.
Romney spent the final days of the campaign making a mad dash through four battleground states.
After starting the day in Florida, Romney flew to Virginia for rallies in Lynchburg, Richmond, and Fairfax, before the stop in Columbus, Ohio.
After that, he finished his schedule in Manchester, New Hampshire, where Kid Rock performed, then on to Belmont.
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