WASHINGTON - With an eye on the weather forecast, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are launching a 10-day sprint to the finish line in a contest increasingly about momentum vs. math.
A huge storm barrelling toward the East Coast — and some battleground states — had both campaigns adjusting their travel schedules and cancelling events. Even at this critical juncture of the campaign, neither side wanted to risk the appearance of putting politics ahead of public safety.
The president was pressing on with a campaign trip Saturday to New Hampshire, while Romney was blitzing through Florida.
But an email announcing that Vice-President Joe Biden's Saturday rally in coastal Virginia Beach, Va., stated that the change was "being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure that all local law enforcement and emergency management resources can stay focused on ensuring the safety of people who might be impacted by the storm."
Romney cancelled a rally in Virginia Beach that was planned for Sunday, and aides said they were also considering scrapping two other events elsewhere in the state. None of Obama's campaign stops had been cancelled, but he did adjust his travel schedule slightly. The campaign moved up his planned Monday departure for Florida to Sunday night to beat the storm.
Ten days from Election Day, Obama and Romney are tied nationally. But the president still appears to have more pathways to reaching the required 270 Electoral College votes.
The Obama campaign released a new TV ad Saturday urging Americans when they go into the voting booth to consider Romney's plans to roll back Wall Street reforms, transform Medicare into a voucher-like system and reduce spending on education while at the same time cutting taxes for the rich. The spot will air in Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia, all key battleground states.
The Republican nominee is trying to seize the momentum mantle and turn a wave of GOP enthusiasm into an electoral victory.
"The debates have supercharged our campaign and the Republican team," Romney's campaign wrote in a fundraising email. "We're seeing more and more enthusiasm — and more and more support."
Obama's campaign pressed forward with a get-out-the-vote effort that aides said had them leading or tied in every competitive state. The president was eschewing the lofty rhetoric of his 2008 run in favour of warning supporters that skipping out on voting could cost him the election.
"In 2000, Gore vs. Bush, 537 votes changed the direction of history in a profound way and the same thing could happen," Obama said in an interview Friday with MTV.
Romney was switching his attention to Florida on Saturday after spending much of the week focused on shoring up support in Ohio. While the Midwestern swing state could be crucial to Romney's re-election prospects, he also faces tremendous pressure to carry Florida, which offers 29 Electoral College votes, the most of any swing state.
Obama carried Florida by just 3 percentage points in 2008 and polls show the candidates tied.
The former Massachusetts governor was scheduled to attend three rallies, the first in Pensacola along the state's conservative Panhandle. He then moves to suburban Orlando before finishing his day with an evening rally just outside of Tampa, the site of the Republican National Convention. Romney was to be joined at all three events by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in North Canton, Ohio, contributed to this report.
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