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.
Obama's revised schedule is a political gamble, too. 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 superstorm Sandy, a political twist the president's visit is sure to underscore.
Obama also took full advantage of incumbency Tuesday. He visited the Red Cross near the White House to commiserate with victims and encourage aid workers. "This is a tough time for millions of people," the president said. "But America is tougher."
While Obama and Romney moved cautiously Tuesday, their campaigns exchanged sharp words in Ohio and expanded 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 it is buying airtime in all three states, although senior Obama adviser David Axelrod flatly said they are safe.
"I will shave off my mustache of 40 years if we lose any of those three states," Axelrod said in an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Republican strategists differ on the Romney campaign's thinking. Some think Romney's aides fear losing all-important Ohio, and they hope for a stunning last-minute breakthrough elsewhere to compensate. Others say the GOP camp has so much money — and so few chances to buy useful airtime in saturated states — that it can spend millions of dollars on a long shot without scrimping in a battleground.