Obama and Romney keep eye on storm
With an eye on a huge storm threatening the US east coast, President Barack Obama and Republican contender Mitt Romney are starting a 10-day sprint to the finish line in a deadlocked contest revolving around a handful of battleground states.
The approaching Hurricane Sandy forced both campaigns to adjust travel schedules and cancel events. Even at this late date in the campaign, neither side wanted to risk the appearance of putting politics ahead of public safety.
The president was pressing on with a campaign trip to New Hampshire.
But an email announcing that Vice President Joe Biden's rally in coastal Virginia Beach, Virginia, had been cancelled said the change was "being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure that all local law enforcement and emergency management resources can stay focused on ensuring the safety of people who might be impacted by the storm".
Romney also cancelled a rally in Virginia Beach that was planned for Sunday, and aides said they were also considering scrapping two other events elsewhere in the state. None of Obama's campaign stops had been cancelled, but he did adjust his travel schedule slightly. The campaign moved up his planned Monday departure for Florida to Sunday night to beat the storm.
With the November 6 election fast approaching, Obama and Romney are tied nationally. But the president still appears to have more ways to reach the required 270 electoral votes.
Presidents are not elected by national popular vote, but in state-by-state contests that allocate electoral votes. Each state gets one electoral vote for each of its representatives in the House and Senate. And the US capital, Washington, DC, gets three votes. The winner needs a majority of the 538 electoral votes.
The Obama campaign released a new TV ad on Saturday urging Americans when they go into the voting booth to consider Romney's plans to roll back Wall Street reforms, transform the Medicare healthcare programme for the elderly into a voucher-like system and reduce spending on education while at the same time cutting taxes for the rich. The ad will air in Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia, all key battleground states.
The Republican nominee is trying to seize the momentum mantle and turn a wave of Republican enthusiasm into an electoral victory.
"Let's win this," Romney emailed supporters on Saturday as he hopped on a plane from one important state to another - Ohio to Florida. He told backers: "We're defying odds and holding strong."