While the politics intensified, real-life misery played out in the Northeast.
The death toll and anger kept climbing in the aftermath of the massive storm Sandy. Millions were without power, and many drivers could find no gasoline.
Obama noted at the top of his campaign speeches that he was still commanding the federal storm response. He also managed to tie it to the theme of his political bid. "We rise or fall as one nation and as one people," he said, before launching directly to the economic recovery under his watch.
Polling shows the race remains a legitimate toss-up heading into the final days. But Romney still has the tougher path to victory because he must win more of the nine most-contested states to reach 270 electoral votes: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire.
The dash for cash continued to the end. A fundraising email under Romney's name asked for money to expand operations into other states and "redefine the landscape of this election." An Obama fundraising pitch said final decisions were being made Saturday on where to direct the last campaign money. "It's not too late," it said.
Romney was making a late, concerted push into Pennsylvania, drawing jeers from Obama aides who called it desperation. Obama won the state comfortably in 2008. Romney appeared intent on another path to the presidency should he lose Ohio.
His foray into Pennsylvania is not folly. Unlike states that emphasize early voting, Pennsylvania will see most votes cast on Election Day. The state has not been saturated with political advertising, giving Romney and his supporting groups — still flush with cash — an opportunity to sway last-minute voters with a barrage of commercials. Obama is countering by buying commercial time in the state as well and is sending former President Bill Clinton to campaign Monday in Pittsburgh, Scranton and the Philadelphia area.
The candidates' wives and running mates fanned out to the South, Midwest and West to cover more ground.
"Here's what it comes down to: We can't afford to wait four more years for real change to get us on the right track," said the Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, rallying for votes in Montrose, Colo. "We only need to wait four more days."
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden drew roaring support in Beloit, Wis., in a middle school near Ryan's hometown.
Obama reached beyond the big cities of Ohio before heading back to the White House. Romney was headed into the weekend with a kickoff event for the finish, joining up with his running mate and their wives.
AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Julie Pace and Julie Carr Smyth in Hilliard, Ohio, Steve Peoples in Pataskala, Ohio, Daniel Sewell in Cincinnati, Ann Sanner in Springfield, Ohio, Matthew Daly in Beloit, Wis., Philip Elliott in Montrose, Colo., and Jim Kuhnhenn and Mark S. Smith in Washington contributed to this report.
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