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After the Storm, Sprint Resumes

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama is greeted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie upon arriving in Atlantic City, N.J., to survey damage from Hurricane Sandy. Christie, a Mitt Romney supporter, has praised the Obama administration for its handling of the natural disaster.

The Romney camp portrayed its spending in the newly minted battleground states as signs of strength, noting that it is  consistently stronger in polls  among independents and contending that  Republicans remain more enthusiastic about voting. “This race is exactly where we hoped it would be,” Romney senior adviser Russ Schriefer said. “We have lots of states that are in play … We have an incumbent president who is stuck well below the 50 percent threshold.”

Political director Rich Beeson said the Romney campaign is using money flowing into the campaign to open new fronts and put Obama on the defensive, while continuing to close gaps in Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin. “Right now their firewall is burning,” he said.

The Obama campaign dismissed the effort as a desperation move and said key states — especially Ohio — remain out of reach for the Republicans. Axelrod went so far as to bet the mustache he’s sported for 40 years that Obama will win Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota. “It’s break-glass time in Boston,” Axelrod said. “I’ve put my mustache on the line.”

Axelrod declined to stake his mustache on Virginia. “I can only bet my mustache once,” he said.

Most polls show Obama maintaining a lead in Ohio. A Quinnipiac poll found Obama up by 5 points, but the latest Rasmussen poll showed him down 2 points — 50-48. The Rasmussen poll showed Romney losing 62-36 among early voters, and the Obama campaign suggested Wednesday that the president’s leads among early voters in Ohio, Nevada and other states are becoming close to insurmountable on Election Day. The Romney campaign disputed those statistics, contending that Romney is doing better in several states than Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) did in 2008.

Another bone of contention is Florida, which has cut the number of early voting days this year, potentially limiting what has been a Democratic strength.

But no issue may matter more for Obama than the popularity of the auto industry bailout in Ohio, given the Chrysler and General Motors Co. plants and suppliers there. Obama’s campaign on Wednesday ripped into a new Romney ad saying that the companies would move jobs to China — an allegation denied by GM and Chrysler executives.

During an appearance in Florida on  Wednesday, Biden called the ad “an outrageous lie” aimed at scaring auto workers and their families.

Romney running mate Rep. Paul Ryan responded to Biden’s charge with a blast of his own. “American taxpayers are on track to lose $25 billion as a result of President Obama’s handling of the auto bailout, and GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas,” the Wisconsin lawmaker said. “These are facts that voters deserve to know as they listen to the claims President Obama and his campaign are making.”

“In keeping with the Halloween season,” Axelrod said, Romney is trying to “masquerade as a champion of the auto industry.”

“Romney is not going to fool the people of Ohio,” said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, noting Ohio and Michigan newspapers reported GM and Chrysler executives blasting the Romney ad.

Messina also said the Romney camp is resurrecting the “welfare lie” that the administration has eliminated work requirements. “They’re flailing because they can read the polls just like we can,” he said.

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