The president welcomed the surprise endorsement on Thursday of New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a high-profile independent who had recently appeared likely to sit out the election. Independents have been trending toward Romney in recent polling. Obama’s campaign also released a television ad hailing the endorsement of retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, who worked in several Republican administrations.
Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy has won him plaudits, including from Republican Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia, both top Romney surrogates. But Romney was not deterred, pressing his argument during three rallies in Virginia that his business experience could turn around the sluggish economy.
With the candidates seeking anything to move the needle, both campaigns looked ahead to a possible wild card: the release of Friday’s unemployment report, especially key in a campaign that has turned on the economy. The two sides plan a frenetic weekend of travel, with Obama blitzing four battleground states alone on Saturday and Romney holding a massive evening rally on Friday in Ohio with nearly 100 top surrogates.
The contest has been slowly returning to normal after the storm battered the East Coast this week. Romney resumed a full schedule of events on Wednesday, although he briefly left it to surrogates to attack the president. Obama, in full commander-in-chief mode, had spent three days immersed in briefings and travel as he helped manage the federal response to the hurricane.
Even as the storm’s death toll rose, the political broadsides resumed in full force on Thursday. And Obama, who campaigned on the theme of change four years ago but has struggled to land on a simple reelection message, returned to his core argument, telling voters in far-flung time zones that Romney would turn the clock of progress backward. “We know what change looks like. What the governor is offering sure ain’t change,” Obama said at a morning event. At another event hours later, he argued: “I know what real change looks like, because I fought for it.”
Romney has been claiming the mantle of change as well. Late Thursday, a senior adviser said the Republican nominee will begin the final four days of the campaign with a speech in West Allis, Wis., “to make clear the big choice voters have to bring about real change.”