September 8, 2012

Obama swings through swing state next door

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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President Barack Obama waves to the crowd at the end of his speech in Portsmouth, N.H., on Friday.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

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President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of supporters during a campaign stop with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden in Portsmouth, N.H., on Friday.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

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The presidential race is moving into high gear.

Now that both parties have launched their respective tickets, President Obama and rival Mitt Romney are revving up for the home stretch, campaigning Friday in battleground states.

They'll be spending most of their time in about a dozen states right to Election Day just 60 days off. Right now the most closely contested states include Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and, with Rep. Paul Ryan on the ticket, his home state of Wisconsin.

The economy remains the No. 1 issue for both sides. Obama and Romney reacted quickly to a new government report showing that, while the nation's jobless rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, only 96,000 jobs were created - not enough to bring the unemployment rate down much lower than where it sits today.

Obama, campaigning with Vice President Joe Biden in New Hampshire, acknowledged, "We need to create more jobs, faster."

Romney, who maintained a low profile during the just-concluded Democratic convention preparing for upcoming presidential debates, campaigned in Iowa.

"We're going in the wrong direction," Romney told reporters in Sioux City. And he didn't mean his campaign itinerary.

"This president tried, but he didn't understand what it takes to make our economy work. I do," Romney said.

-- The Associated Press

Susan Yorston, 57, of nearby York Beach, Maine, said she was inspired by watching Obama's convention speech late Thursday. "It was a little hard to get up this morning, but if he can do it, I can do it," she said.

Berhanu Stevens, 10, Beti Stevens, 11, and Lily Kemp, 11 -- all from Kittery and students at Shapleigh School -- were excited to see the Obamas, even though it meant missing some school.

"I really like Barack Obama and Michelle and what he's done for others," Beti Stevens said.

"I want to see the kids," Berhanu Stevens said. The first daughters, however, didn't make the trip.

Beti and Berhanu Stevens, who were born in Ethiopia, said they especially admire the Obamas because they are African-Americans. The girls had promised teachers they would say hello to the president, and people in the crowd later gave Beti Stevens a boost so she could shake Obama's hand.

Despite the enthusiasm and support in Portsmouth on Friday, Obama will have to work hard to win New Hampshire, said Pam Cote, 66, a retired nurse from York Beach.

"I don't think the momentum is as good as it was before," she said.

Cote volunteered for Obama in 2008 and attended Friday's event to try to get enthusiastic again. "I'm a little disappointed," she said.

She had hoped that the nation's wars would end sooner, that there would be more jobs by now, and that the country would have a true single-payer health care system by now, she said.

Cote will likely campaign for Obama again in any case, she said. "What's the alternative?"

New Hampshire has just four electoral votes -- 270 are needed to win. But it is one of 12 states that easily could go either way, and both campaigns are focusing on every one of them.

The intense battle over New Hampshire is the reason that voters in southern Maine have seen so many presidential campaign ads in recent weeks. The candidates and their supporters are spending heavily on ads in the Portland market because of its reach into parts of New Hampshire.

Friday's stop was likely as close as Obama will come to Maine before the election Nov. 6. Romney isn't expected to visit Maine, either, unless the race tightens up.

Maine also has four electoral votes. Both Maine and New Hampshire voted for Obama in 2008.

Maine is considered a relatively safe state for Obama this year. New Hampshire is different in at least two ways.

It has historically voted Republican in presidential elections, while Maine has trended toward Democrats. And Mitt Romney has spent a lot of time in New Hampshire. He has a vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., Friday at a campaign stop with President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle and Jill Biden.

Gregory Rec / Staff Writer

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Supporters start filling the stands along a field at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H., hours before President Obama's speech on Friday.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

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A woman holds a "Swedes for Obama" sign in a field at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H., hours before the scheduled arrival of President Obama, first lady Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The field at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H., where President Obama will speak later Friday is lined by historic homes.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Supporters fill a field at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H., hours before President Obama's speech on Friday.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer


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