Barack Obama greets supporters during a campaign rally at
Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio. REUTERS/Jason Reed
After months spent rallying their most reliable
supporters, Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama
are reaching out to the small sliver of voters who remain
undecided in the final days before the week's presidential
With the race in a dead heat nationally, both candidates
hopscotched across the country in a bid to secure any
possible advantage ahead of Election Day. That meant another
round of campaigning in the handful of states that remain
competitive and a last-minute effort to pull votes from the
At airport rallies in New Hampshire and Iowa, Romney urged
supporters to try to sway friends and neighbors who back
Obama. He said he would reach out to Democrats as well if
elected - a stance that could appeal to independent voters
who have little stomach for partisan gridlock.
"I want you to reach across the street to the neighbor, who
has that other sign in his front yard. And I'm going to reach
across the aisle in Washington, D.C., to the politicians who
are working for the other candidate," Romney told about 2,000
people at an airport rally in Dubuque, Iowa.
In Ohio, Obama hammered Romney for opposing his bailout of
the auto industry and trying to scare workers by saying
inaccurately that Chrysler planned to shift jobs to China.
"I understand that Governor Romney's having a hard time here
in Ohio because he was against saving the auto industry,"
About one in eight jobs in Ohio is tied to auto
manufacturing. The bailout appears to have boosted Obama's
prospects in the Rust Belt state, especially among the
working-class white men who are heavily backing Romney in
much of the rest of the country.
"I've been a Republican for 35 years and I've never voted for
a Democrat on the federal level - until now," retiree Patrick
Dorsey said as he waited for Obama to speak. "Economically,
Romney's just going to make the rich richer."
Romney will have a hard time winning the White House if he
does not carry Ohio, and a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on
Saturday showed him trailing Obama by a statistically
meaningless margin of 1 percentage point in the state. Other
polls show him trailing by a larger margin in Ohio.
The race for the White House remains effectively tied at a
national level with 47 percent backing Obama and 46 percent
backing Romney, according to a Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking
poll released on Saturday.
The narrow scope of the race has been evident for months but
it was shown vividly on Saturday, when Obama was due to
campaign in Dubuque six hours after Romney's visit.
Still, analysts say Obama holds an edge in many of the eight
or nine competitive states that will determine who controls
the White House. Reuters/Ipsos polls released on Saturday
showed Obama leading by 3 percentage points in Virginia but
trailing by 2 points in Colorado. The two were dead even in
Florida. All the results were within the credibility
interval, a measurement of the accuracy of online polls.
Other surveys generally show Obama leading by narrow margins
in Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa. Romney is
considered to have the edge in North Carolina.
Romney has tried to expand the battlefield over the past week
to states that had been considered beyond his reach.
"We win Pennsylvania, we save America in three days,"
Romney's vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, said at
an airport rally in the state capital, Harrisburg.
Ryan is due to visit Minnesota on Sunday, another state that
has been considered solidly Democratic. Romney himself is due
to speak in Pennsylvania on Sunday.
Obama officials say the Romney campaign is visiting those
states out of desperation because he has been unable to
establish a clear lead in other battleground states.
Nevertheless, the Obama campaign is dispatching Vice
President Joe Biden's wife, Jill Biden, to Pennsylvania and
former President Bill Clinton to Minnesota.
Obama started the day at the federal government's
disaster-relief headquarters in Washington, where he received
an update on the efforts to help Northeastern coastal states
recover from devastating storm Sandy.
The storm has afforded the Democrat an opportunity to rise
above the fray of campaigning. But it has also raised the
stakes for him to show his administration can respond quickly
and effectively in a crisis, as residents of New York and New
Jersey vent frustration at power outages and gasoline
"He's focused on it every moment he's not speaking on the
stage," Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters
aboard Air Force One.