Washington: President Barack Obama set off on a marathon, two-day campaign journey Wednesday touching down in five states and making an appearance on a popular late-night television program as he tries to break out of the neck-and-neck race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney with just 13 days left before voters cast their ballots on November 6.
Obama is hammering Romney over his sudden shift to moderate positions both at home and abroad after months of campaigning as a hard-right conservative.
Romney, looking to sustain momentum that grew out his overwhelming victory in the first presidential debate three weeks ago, is bashing Obama as a leader who has failed to bring the economy back to full speed after the Great Recession and warning that re-electing the president is a prescription for continuing hard times.
Both men are making extraordinary efforts to sway the small pool of undecided voters while imploring their millions of supporters to vote, particularly in key battleground states such as Ohio and Iowa where early voting is already under way. Obama planned a short stop in Chicago tomorrow to cast his own vote the first time an incumbent president has opted for early voting.
The election map has shrunk to no more than nine of the 50 US states, and that`s where both candidates will be spending virtually all of their time in the final days before the election.
Residents in those so-called battleground states do not reliably vote either Republican or Democrat. The states assume outsized importance because the president is chosen according to state-by-state contests, not the national popular vote.
Obama was planning to cover 8,500 kilometres today in the most-travelled single day of his re-election bid. He was going from Washington to Iowa, Colorado, California and Nevada, and then overnight to Florida.
It was the first time Obama was spending the night flying on Air Force One for a domestic trip but far from unprecedented by incumbents scrambling to keep their job.
Obama will break for an appearance on the widely watched "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and make calls to voters from the plane.