TAMPA, Fla. —
Romney was kicking off a daylong swing through three Ohio towns, sharpening his focus on a state critical to his hopes of winning the White House. The Republican's advisers say their internal data has him tied to win the state's 18 Electoral College votes, but public polling has shown Obama with a slim lead.
Romney is working to cast Obama's campaign as focused on small issues while the Republican ticket is focused on fixing the nation's serious fiscal problems.
"His campaign seems to be smaller and smaller by the day," Romney told more than 2,000 people in an airplane hangar off the tarmac in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday as his campaign plane loomed behind him. "Attacking me is not an agenda for the future."
The AP-GfK poll released Thursday shows the presidential race still a virtual dead heat nationally, with Romney favored by 47 percent of likely voters and Obama by 45 percent. That result is within the poll's 4.2-point margin of error.
Although national polls show the race is close, Romney is struggling to overtake Obama in the state-by-state march to racking up the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory. Romney has far fewer paths to reaching that threshold than Obama, who starts with more states — and more Electoral College votes — in his win column. The race is centered on just nine states, where polls show competitive races: Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin.
The president's morning rally kicked off the second day of his 40-hour battleground state blitz. After spending the night on Air Force One en route to Florida, he was heading to Virginia and Ohio before heading back to the White House.
Shortly after 7 a.m. and less than five hours after his day ended in Las Vegas, Obama was at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop near downtown Tampa, and minutes later delivered the still warm doughnuts to a nearby firehouse. He said he wanted to come by early — noting he is not often out this early — to thank them for all they do.