GWEN IFILL: President Obama and Mitt Romney focused on key battleground states again today, each hoping to recover or to rebound.
With four weeks to Election Day, the presidential campaign has kicked into high gear after last week’s debate dramatically shifted momentum, as, in almost every poll, Gov. Romney is now statistically tied with or leading President Obama.
For Mitt Romney, the challenge is to keep the wind at his back. At a rain-soaked rally in Virginia last night, he spoke of his renewed optimism.
MITT ROMNEY (R): People wonder why it is I’m so confident we’re going to win. I’m confident because I see you here on a day like this. This is unbelievable. Thank you so much.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GWEN IFILL: And in Iowa today, the governor departed from his usual stump speech to tell a more personal story of an encounter at a Christmas party a few years ago.
MITT ROMNEY: One of them was a guy actually from my home state of Massachusetts, and a relatively young guy compared to me. And he was a former Navy SEAL. He was living in San Diego, and learned about him. He talked about his life.
He told me that he keeps going back in the Middle East. He cares very deeply about the people there. He had served in the military there, went back from time to time to offer security services and so forth to people there.
You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi on September 11.
GWEN IFILL: Following his battleground map, Romney traveled to must-win Ohio. That’s where President Obama was today, campaigning at OhioStateUniversity on the last day Buckeyes can register to vote.
President Obama has seen his previous lead in the polls almost evaporate and is on the offense after a lackluster debate performance last week. He admitted as much at a fundraiser last night in San Francisco.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: After the debate, I had a bunch of folks come to me: Don’t be so polite. Don’t be so nice.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BARACK OBAMA: But I want everybody to understand something. What was being presented wasn’t leadership. That’s salesmanship.
Gov. Romney’s plan is to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring the hammer down on Sesame Street.
GWEN IFILL: The Obama campaign sought to exploit the Sesame Street reference today with a new television ad.
NARRATOR: Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about. It’s Sesame Street.
MITT ROMNEY: I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.
NARRATOR: Mitt Romney taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest.
GWEN IFILL: Sesame Street Workshop asked the Obama campaign to pull the ad down.
As Paul Ryan and Joe Biden prepare to meet in their lone vice presidential debate later this week, the presidential candidates will continue to narrow their focus with a Romney swing through Ohio and a presidential visit to Florida.