ROANOKE, Va. —
Presidential politics reignited in the wake of natural disaster Thursday, with the candidates beginning their full-throttle closing arguments with new vigor on the same pocketbook concerns that have dominated the campaign from the start.
President Barack Obama, Republican rival Mitt Romney, their wives and running mates were blitzing across the country in the busiest day of campaign events yet. The six principals were hitting seven swing states left up for grabs that will determine on Tuesday which man will occupy the White House for the next four years.
After avoiding criticism of Obama by name for a full day in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Romney aides said Thursday it was game on. That was evident as Romney stood in front of a semitrailer cab emblazoned with the logo of the Roanoke, Va., window and door factory hosting his first rally of the day.
Romney opened a new criticism of Obama's suggestion in an interview earlier this week with MSNBC that he would create a secretary of business. "We don't need a secretary of business to understand business, we need a president who understands business, and I do," he said. Romney's crowd seemed as charged as he was, interrupting with frequent whoops of applause and chants of, "Five more days!"
Obama also planned to focus his closing arguments on the economy, focusing in the final days on boosting middle-class security. The president's advisers insist his three-day break from campaigning to focus on storm recovery had minimal impact on his standing. If anything, it gave Obama a chance to offer the type of comfort and command in a crisis that only a president can deliver.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Obama would reprise many of the themes from his 2008 campaign and speak broadly about the choice facing voters.