WASHINGTON — After tamping down his partisan tone Tuesday at an Ohio event that chiefly emphasized victims' relief, Romney planned a full-blown return to the trail Wednesday. Sandy largely spared Florida, so Romney calculates he can campaign there without appearing callous.
On Thursday, Romney planned to focus on Virginia with stops in Roanoke, Doswell and Virginia Beach. Friday is all about Ohio, culminating with a guest-filled rally in suburban Cincinnati to kick off the campaign's final four days. Set to join Romney, Ryan and their wives in West Chester, Ohio, are golf legend Jack Nicklaus, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Romney also planned to get in last-minute voter outreach in tossup New Hampshire, with a big final campaign event Monday night before heading to Boston for Election Day.
Obama's revised schedule also is a political gamble. Rather than use the campaign's final Wednesday to woo voters in tossup states, he will go before cameras 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 also stopped at FEMA headquarters Wednesday. News photographers were allowed to accompany him inside, but not reporters.
While Obama and Romney were moving cautiously, their campaigns are exchanging sharp words in Ohio and expanding their operations into three Democratic-leaning states, a move that will reshape the contest's final six days.
Romney's campaign is running ads in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, and a pro-Romney group is doing the same in Michigan. 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, although senior Obama adviser David Axelrod flatly said they are safe.