HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — Fresh off an intensely combative debate, President Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney and their running mates are taking their tuned-up fight to the precious few battleground states where the election is up for grabs with just 20 days to go.
In the sprint to Election Day, Nov. 6, every aspect of the campaign seems to be taking on a fresh sense of urgency — the ads, the fundraising, the grass-roots mobilizing and the outreach to key voting blocs, particularly women. Obama wore a pink breast cancer bracelet while campaigning in Iowa and Romney's campaign dispatched former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to introduce vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in Ohio.
Rice and Ryan highlighted the plight of women in the current economy, with Ryan reading statistics from the podium on female unemployment and poverty rates under Obama's leadership. "We need to get people back to work," Ryan said. "We need to get this economy turned around."
Romney also quietly began airing a new TV ad suggesting he believes abortion "should be an option" in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake.
The ad is an appeal to women voters, who polls show have favored Obama throughout the race although Romney has been making gains among them. Romney supported abortion rights as Massachusetts governor but now says he opposes abortion with limited exceptions. His campaign didn't announce the ad, but it began running on debate night on stations that reach Virginia, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Romney traveled with comedian Dennis Miller, and singer Lee Greenwood warmed up his crowd in southeast Virginia. Vice President Joe Biden was westward bound for Colorado and Nevada.
Obama appears to have 237 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory comfortably in hand, and Romney is confident of 191. That leaves 110 electoral votes up for grabs in nine battleground states: Florida (29), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4).