The latest polls show more Americans trust Democratic President Barack Obama on national security and that GOP challenger Mitt Romney holds a slight edge on handling the economy.
Usually, it's the other way around for Democrats and Republicans. Now it's hard to tell the hawks from the doves.
Americans are bone weary of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also, they're worried by the nation's drawn-out economic pains and high joblessness.
Both the incumbent and his presumptive GOP challenger are mindful of these sentiments, and are playing to their own perceived strengths.
That's why Romney — a former corporate chief — has been focusing on economic issues while Obama lately has stressed the importance of U.S. military might and protecting Americans from harm, notably his decision to move against Osama bin Laden. It's a delicate balancing act as he also brings home American troops from overseas.
Romney on Thursday was campaigning in Portsmouth, Va., with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Rep. Michele Bachmann, who was set to endorse him after a long delay. Romney's topic: helping the economy with more energy exploration and development.
Obama carried Virginia in 2008 and it's again a top battleground.
Romney has been mocking Obama's new campaign slogan, "Forward."
"It's like, forward, what, over the cliff?" he asks. The GOP Super PAC "American Crossroads" has produced an ad called "Backward" in which an announcer states, "The only thing moving forward is the national debt."
It's hard for Obama to boast about the economy right now, since recent reports suggest private-sector job creation has slowed from its pace earlier this year. So Obama's campaign is blasting Romney for keeping money in a Swiss bank account and suggesting he shipped jobs overseas.
Romney counters that Obama is "attacking success" and "dividing the American people."
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EDITOR'S NOTE _ With 187 days left until Election Day, here are insights into today's highlights in U.S. politics