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Obama, Romney back on the offensive as election campaign enters final stretch

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney went back on the offensive on Thursday as they kicked off their final campaign sprint following a break in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

    As Tuesday’s election draws closer, Obama reignited his 2008 "change" slogan, saying he was the only candidate who had actually fought for it.

    Meanwhile, Romney slammed Obama as a lover of big government who would expand federal bureaucracy.

    Polls indicate Obama and Romney are in a deadlocked race. The two contenders are set to spend the final days in eight battleground states that will decide who wins the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

    Obama’s first stop on Thursday was in Wisconsin followed by rallies in Nevada and Colorado before he spent the night in Ohio. Romney spent 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 supporters on an airport tarmac in Wisconsin."I know what change looks like because I've fought for it."

    Speaking in Virginia, Romney criticized Obama's comment in an interview aired earlier this week by MSNBC that he would look to consolidate government agencies that deal with business issues in a separate 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 suspended campaign events for several days as Sandy pounded the northeastern seaboard on Monday.

    Obama focused his attention on overseeing federal relief efforts to show the public he was focused on his presidential duties rather than pursuing his bid for a second term.

    Romney also cut back on political events in order to avoid coming across as overtly political during a major natural disaster and urged supporters to donate to the Red Cross.

    The break resulted in some unexpected political benefits for Obama, who garnered praise from Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a staunch Romney supporter. His time in the spotlight directing the federal government’s response also largely sidelined Romney.

    Obama plans to visit Ohio on each of the last four days of the campaign along with two more trips to Wisconsin and Iowa. He will also visit Florida and Virginia, where most polls indicate Romney with a marginal lead, in the final days of campaigning.

    Obama will end his campaign on Monday night with rock singer Bruce Springsteen in Iowa, where a 2008 caucus win launched his run to the presidency.

    Romney will visit Wisconsin and Ohio later in the day followed by trips to New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado on Saturday and a visit to Pennsylvania on Sunday.

    Romney plans to conclude his campaign on Monday night in New Hampshire, the state where he launched his bid last year.