washington: President Barack Obama set off on Wednesday on an eight state, 7,660 mile, 40-hour tour, in a show of confidence and commitment in battlegrounds that will decide the election. Latest polls indicated he is gaining in key states.
Thirteen days before he asks voters for a second term, Obama’s through-the-night, coast-to-coast trip will take in six of the most contested swing states in his toss-up race with Republican Mitt Romney.
The struggle in Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Ohio will decide which of the rivals masses the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
Obama, who has a well-appointed cabin in the nose of Air Force One, will sleep on a red-eye flight from Las Vegas to Tampa on Wednesday night.
He will also divert from swing states during his tour to tape an appearance on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and to cast an early vote in his hometown of Chicago.
The trip, already mocked as the “Can’t Afford Four More” tour by Romney’s campaign, comes with Obama tied or just behind Romney in national polls, but still with small leads in a handful of the swing states.
Romney led in an average of national polls by 0.7 per cent on Tuesday, but Obama still held small leads in Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, states that could hand him a second four-year term.
A new set of battleground polls hold encouraging signs for Obama, with the incumbent leading in both Ohio and Virginia — two battlegrounds Romney will likely need if he is to win the White House.
In Ohio, a SurveyUSA poll released on Wednesday morning gave the president a 47-to-44 per cent advantage, in line with recent surveys that have shown the incumbent with a small but steady advantage in the Buckeye State.
Meanwhile, a new survey from Old Dominion University gives the president a 50-43 per cent advantage in Virginia.
Obama claimed a slight lead over Romney after the third debate, a United Press International poll indicated on Wednesday. Forty-nine per cent of likely voters said they would vote for Obama if the election was held now and 47 per cent said they would back Romney, results of the UPI-CVoter poll indicated.
However, the race remained statistically too close to call because of the 4.5 percentage point margin of error.
Campaigning earlier Tuesday in Nevada, one of the handful of toss-up states expected to decide the election, Romney said Obama’s campaign was “taking on water” after a trio of debates “supercharged” his own White House bid.
“His is a status quo candidacy. His is a message of going forward with the same policies of the last four years. And that’s why his campaign is slipping. And that’s why ours is gaining so much steam,” Romney said.
Campaigning through Ohio and Florida, Obama accused Romney of suffering from “stage three Romnesia,” saying he had forgotten or completely changed his views on a wide range of issues.
“We are accustomed to seeing politicians change their positions from four years ago. We are not accustomed to seeing politicians change their positions from four days ago,” Obama told a Florida rally.