With just five weeks until Election Day, they dispatched their wives and running mates to court voters in key states, such as the critical battleground of Ohio, where early voting began Tuesday. Balloting already is under way in other states.
In Pennsylvania, a judge blocked a requirement that all voters show photo ID in this year's election, a victory for Democrats who argued it would prevent the elderly and minorities from voting. But voters will have to show identification in some other states as part of a wave of new policies approved primarily by Republican-controlled legislatures.
GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was visiting three Iowa towns during a bus tour Tuesday, while Vice President Joe Biden scheduled two events in North Carolina, another swing state. First lady Michelle Obama was campaigning in Ohio and Seattle, and Ann Romney was attending a rally in Littleton, outside Denver.
In Clinton, Iowa, a voter asked Ryan about video of Romney saying 47 percent of Americans don't pay income taxes and are dependent on government. The voter wanted to know if there is a way to collect something from everyone.
"I have an idea: Let's help them get jobs so they can get good paychecks and then they're good taxpayers," Ryan said. He did not mention that military members serving in war zones and retired seniors are among the millions of people who do not owe federal income taxes.
Ryan acknowledged, however, Romney's comments about those people muddled the political landscape.
"Sometimes the point doesn't get made the right way," he said.
Ryan also tried to invoke optimism as his ticket trails in the polls. He predicted the debates would spark a shift.
"Now we're entering what we call the debate and choice phase of this campaign," Ryan told The Jay Weber Show on Milwaukee's 1130 WISN talk radio. "People are going to focus on this. The debates are going to give us a chance to highlight our differences, and we're entering the phase where we get to frame the choice of this election."
Associated Press writers Philip Elliott in Clinton, Iowa, and Kasie Hunt in Denver contributed to this report.
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