Obama and Romney battle it out on campaign trail in Virginia

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney squared off on the campaign trail on Thursday in the crucial swing state of Virginia.

    The Democratic incumbent called for a new "economic patriotism" as he looked to woo military voters ahead of the November 6 election.

    "During campaign season you always hear a lot about patriotism. Well, you know what? It's time for a new economic patriotism. An economic patriotism rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong and thriving middle class," Obama told a crowd of some 7,000 in Virginia Beach, home to several military bases.

    "And I won't pretend that getting there is easy. The truth is it's going to take a few more years to solve challenges that were building up over decades, but I want everyone here to understand, our problems can be solved," he said.

    The patriotism angle was likely aimed at the state's large population of veterans, according to political analysts.

    Meanwhile, Romney slated Obama over potential defense cuts that could come into force early next year.

    Speaking in the suburbs of Washington, a base for thousands of defense jobs, Romney blamed Obama for the proposed $1.2 trillion cut as part of a deal the President made with Congress in the summer of 2011.

    Known as "sequestration," the mandatory cuts in defense and other areas were agreed on by the White House and Republicans in Congress in a bid to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.

    The cuts are due to begin in January if the two parties cannot come to an agreement over budget savings.

    "How in the world as commander-in-chief you can stand by as we shrink our military commitment financially is something I don't understand, and I will reverse it," Romney told a crowd at the American Legion in Springfield.

    He added that the "unthinkable" cuts would cost Virginia 136,000 jobs.

    Virginia is one of a number of battleground states that could decide the outcome of the presidential election.

    Obama secured Virginia in 2008, the first time the state was won by a Democrat since the general elections in 1964.