June 18, 2013
Obama, Romney go back on attack as campaign hits final stretch
US President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney went back on the attack on Thursday, breaking a storm-induced campaign truce to hit the road and pound home their closing messages in the final stretch of a tight battle for the White House.
With five days left until Tuesday's election, Obama resurrected his 2008 "change" slogan and said he was the only candidate who had actually fought for it. Romney criticized Obama as a lover of big government who would expand the federal bureaucracy.
National polls show the race deadlocked, and Obama and Romney will spend the final days in eight swing states that will decide who wins the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the White House.
Obama made Wisconsin the first stop on a four-state swing on Thursday that also took him to rallies in Nevada and Colorado before spending the night in Ohio. Romney planned a full day of campaigning across Virginia.
"You may be frustrated at the pace of change, but you know what I believe, you know where I stand," Obama told a crowd of 2,600 people on an airport tarmac in Wisconsin, a vital piece of his electoral strategy. "I know what change looks like because I've fought for it."
Romney criticized Obama's comment in an interview aired by MSNBC on Monday that he would like to consolidate government agencies that deal with business issues in a new department under a secretary of business.
"I don't think adding a new chair to his Cabinet will help add millions of jobs on Main Street," Romney said.
Obama and Romney had put campaigning on hold for several days as the historic storm Sandy pounded the eastern seaboard, leaving a trail of destruction and forcing Obama to turn his attention to storm relief.
That pause produced some unexpected political benefits for Obama, who won warm praise from Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Romney supporter, and he spent days directing federal relief efforts in a show of presidential leadership that largely sidelined Romney.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg - a Republican-turned-independent who did not back a candidate in 2008 - endorsed Obama and cited the Democrat's record on climate change, in the aftermath of the storm.
Bloomberg said Obama had taken significant steps to reduce carbon consumption, while Romney had backtracked on earlier positions he took as governor of Massachusetts to battle climate change. Obama said he was "honored" by the backing of Bloomberg, who flirted with White House runs in the past.
On their first day back on the trail, both Obama and Romney returned to political attacks but struck a slightly more positive tone than usual in trying to woo undecided voters and push their own supporters to vote.
In Doswell, Virginia, Romney proclaimed his faith in the future and said, "The American people have what it takes to come out of these tough times." In Wisconsin, Obama drew distinctions with Romney but dropped his usual reference to "Romnesia" - the term he uses to describe what he calls Romney's tendency to shift positions.