JEFFREY BROWN: The countdown to Election Day brought new jibes, new ads and new urgency today. The presidential contenders and their running mates raced from state to state, looking to nail down 270 electoral votes with just 13 days to go.
For President Obama, it was the busiest day yet of his reelection campaign and it began with a flight from Washington to Davenport, Iowa.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is the first stop on our 48-hour fly-around campaign marathon extravaganza.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We're going to pull an all-nighter, no sleep.
JEFFREY BROWN: Before the day was done, the president planned to fly more than 5,000 miles. From Iowa, he was headed to Colorado, California and Nevada.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney was also on the move in the opposite direction: starting with an event in Nevada, and planning to end the day in Iowa. President Obama won Iowa in 2008, but it's a tossup this year. He argued today the choice is between a known quantity and a candidate who keeps changing his views.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Trust matters. And -- and here's the thing. Iowa, you know me. You know -- you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say.
You could take a videotape of things I said 10 years ago, 12 years ago, and you would say, man, this is the same guy, has the same values, cares about the same people, doesn't forget where he came from, knows who he's fighting for.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JEFFREY BROWN: The president also told The Des Moines Register that if he wins, a big reason will be that -- quote -- "Republicans alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community." He predicted the GOP will join him in finally passing major immigration reform.
For his part, Romney fired back in Reno. He said the president's been reduced to misplaced attacks on his record.
MITT ROMNEY (R): With four -- four debates behind us, including the vice presidential debate, the president's been unable to find an -- an agenda and to communicate an agenda and to defend an agenda.
And that's one reason why I think we all know that he's out of ideas and out of excuses. And, in November, you're going to put him out of office.
JEFFREY BROWN: For both sides, the stepped-up pace was a sign of just how tight the race is in the closing stage of the campaign. Over the next 13 days, both candidates will barnstorm a series of swing states where the White House will be won or lost, perhaps none more important than Ohio, where the vice presidential candidates were campaigning today.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, folks, you probably heard the rumor that Ohio is going to pick the next president of the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JEFFREY BROWN: Vice President Biden talked up the president's economic ideas before a crowd in Marion.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Because, folks, here's the deal. When the middle class is doing well, everybody does well. The poor have a way up. They got a ladder up and the wealthy do very, very well.
We have created a lot of millionaires. And it's a good thing, not a bad thing. But that's how you do it. You don't grow from the top down.
JEFFREY BROWN: At roughly the same time, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was also addressing poverty 120 miles away in Cleveland.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis.: So what is the alternative approach that Mitt Romney and I are offering? Well, to hear some tell it, we think everybody should just fend for themselves. That's just a false argument. It's a straw man set up to avoid a genuine debate.
The truth is, Mitt Romney and I believe in true compassion and upward mobility. And we're offering a vision based on real reforms for lifting people out of poverty.
JEFFREY BROWN: A new wave of TV ads also debuted in key states. The pro-Romney group American Crossroads began airing this spot in seven states with actor Clint Eastwood.
CLINT EASTWOOD, actor: When someone doesn't get the job done, you have got to hold them accountable. Obama's second term would be a rerun of the first, and our country just couldn't survive that.
JEFFREY BROWN: The Obama campaign countered with a reminder that just 537 votes in Florida swung the election of 2000 and led to the George W. Bush presidency.
NARRATOR: So, this year, if you're thinking your vote doesn't count, that it won't matter, well, back then, there were probably at least 537 people who felt the same way.
JEFFREY BROWN: Meanwhile, aides said the president would himself be calling voters tonight from Air Force One, before starting the day tomorrow in Florida. Mitt Romney will be headed to Ohio tomorrow.