Obama to visit storm victims as campaign rolls on

By Nedra Pickler

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 31 2012 11:16 a.m. MDT

Ryan argued that Wisconsin was a battleground that will help decide the election and urged supporters to work hard for the next week so they have no regrets. "When we wake up a week from this morning, let's make sure we did everything we could," Ryan said.

With recent polls showing independents moving in Romney's direction, campaign advisers say they believe it's in part because of Romney's focus on his record as a pragmatic, get-things-done governor who isn't necessarily hemmed in by ideology. Romney advisers said their internal polling reflects disappointment in what some voters see as Obama's inability to change the culture of Washington and eschew partisanship. They said that Romney's comments during debates about his own record working with Democrats in Massachusetts were well-received.

Rather than use the campaign's final Wednesday to woo voters in tossup states, Obama donned hiking shoes for a disaster tour with New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie. Christie is one of Romney's most prominent supporters, and a frequent Obama critic. But Christie praised Obama's handling of the storm, a political twist the president's visit is sure to underscore.

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said the president and his campaign agreed that his job was to stay in Washington in face-to-face touch with those responsible for recovery.

But Axelrod added: "We passed a threshold here. And we do have an election on Tuesday. So we owe it to folks to make the final arguments and we're going to do that."

Overall, though, Axelrod said the superstorm "tended to freeze this race. Wherever you think the race is, it tended to freeze the race. Because people are focused on the storm. That's what's been in the news."

Romney's campaign is running ads in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, and pro-Romney forces are doing the same in Michigan and New Mexico. Obama was leading in all three, but his campaign is taking the threat seriously. It sent former President Bill Clinton to Minnesota on Tuesday and is buying airtime in all three states.

Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in Tampa, Fla., Philip Elliott in Eau Claire, Wis., Ben Feller, Charles Babington and Ken Thomas in Washington, Matthew Daly in Sarasota, Fla., Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minn., and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

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