CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Republican Mitt Romney cast President Barack Obama as a failed coach of a struggling team as he sought to capitalize on momentum coming out of his party's convention. Obama dismissed the GOP gathering as an event suited to the era of black-and-white TV and promised to outline "a better path forward" at the upcoming Democratic convention where he'll be nominated for a second term.
The two rivals campaigned Saturday across several battleground states expected to decide the outcome of the closely fought presidential contest. Obama was in Iowa and Colorado, part of a three-day tour that will take him to his convention opening Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.
Romney spoke at rallies in Ohio and Florida before flying to his vacation home in New Hampshire for some time off. He and his wife, Ann, attended church services Sunday morning at the chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Campaign officials said Romney would spend much of the Democrats' convention week preparing for the presidential debates.
At rallies in Cincinnati and Jacksonville, Fla., Romney channeled many voters' interest in the first weekend of the college football season.
"I don't like the way the way the game is going under this president," Romney said, pointing to the high jobless rate and approximately 23 million people who are unemployed or working part-time. "If there's a coach whose record is 0 and 23 million, you get rid of him and get someone new."
The former Massachusetts governor reiterated his pledge to create 12 million new jobs and make the U.S. energy independent in eight years but did not offer specifics on how he would achieve those goals.
Obama seized on the dearth of policy details outlined by Romney and other Republicans at their convention in Tampa, Fla.
"There was a lot of talk about hard truths and bold choices, but no one actually told you what they were," Obama said in Urbandale, Iowa, warning a Romney administration would offer "retreads of the same old policies that have been sticking it to the middle class for years."
David Axelrod, Obama's senior campaign adviser, said the president would present a clear agenda for strengthening middle class economic security during his acceptance speech in Charlotte.
"You don't hear those kinds of things from the Republican Party," Axelrod said on Fox News Sunday. "Their platform was locked up in the same vault as Mitt Romney's tax returns. They simply don't want to talk about their ideas, because their ideas are not ideas about the future."
Democrats have criticized Romney for making no mention in his convention speech of the war in Afghanistan or of the thousands of troops fighting there. Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom on Sunday defended that decision, saying the Republican candidate addressed the Afghan war in a speech last week to the American Legion.
"But Gov. Romney's convention speech was an opportunity for him to introduce himself to millions of voters who were seeing him for the first time," Fehrnstrom said on CNN's "State of the Union." ''In that speech, he accomplished what he set (out) to do, which is to talk about his better vision for America, with more jobs and increasing wages. He talked about the failures of the Obama presidency over the last four years."
Obama was campaigning Sunday in Colorado, where he planned to speak to college students in Boulder.
The president is pushing voters in states like Iowa and Colorado to take advantage of early voting rules. Early voting in Iowa opens on Sept. 27, weeks before the November 6 general election.
Obama's schedule for Monday includes an appearance in Toledo, Ohio — yet another battleground state — before a trip to Louisiana to inspect damage from Hurricane Isaac.
Romney visited Louisiana on Friday.
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