U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shake hands at the end of the third and final presidential debate October 22, 2012 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- One storm over, another ahead.
After a brief campaign hiatus courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney resumed a blitz of swing states in the final days before Tuesday's election - making their closing arguments to voters in stump speeches and TV ads.
The candidates' weekend travel schedules made it clear where the election was likely to be decided. Obama was slated to return to Ohio on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. He also was set to stump in Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire and Colorado.
Romney was scheduled to campaign in Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Colorado and Pennsylvania as both candidates tried to seal the deal at the end of a long, bitter and close campaign.
Statewide polls released Thursday differed on who was ahead in Colorado and Iowa, but they showed Obama with a single-digit lead in Nevada and Wisconsin. Eight of nine surveys over the past week in crucial Ohio gave Obama a narrow edge.
"We know what the future requires," Obama, sporting a bomber jacket, told an airport rally in Green Bay, Wis. "We don't need a big-government agenda or a small-government agenda. We need a middle-class agenda that rewards hard work and responsibility."
He dismissed Romney's claim to being a candidate of change. "We know what change looks like, and what the governor's offering sure isn't it," he said.
Romney mocked Obama for suggesting in an NBC interview having a single official oversee overlapping business programs. "I don't think adding a new chair in his Cabinet will help add millions of jobs on Main Street," Romney, stumping in his shirtsleeves, told supporters in Roanoke, Va. "We don't need a 'secretary of Business' to understand business. We need a president who understands business, and I do."
A new Romney TV ad also ridiculed Obama's comment. "His solution to everything is to add another bureaucrat," the narrator said.
A new Obama ad used a testimonial from a Republican, former secretary of State Colin Powell, who praised the president's record and urged Americans to "keep on the track that we are on."
The president received an unexpected endorsement from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent. He cited Obama's disaster response and the need for the next president to address climate change, which the mayor said increased the ferocity of the storm.
The limited number of battlegrounds at times made the campaigns seem to be circling one another. In Akron late Thursday, Ann Romney and former president Bill Clinton simultaneously held events just 25 miles from one another.