5 things to watch for in the campaign homestretch
WASHINGTON (AP) — Five things to watch for in the final week of the presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney:
1. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS: The final jobs report before Tuesday's election comes out at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Does the unemployment rate drop below 7.8 percent or rise? Will it sway voters this close to Election Day? Will Obama get to continue to claim economic progress or will Romney get fodder to claim improvements aren't happening fast enough?
2. RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY: Here's what weather forecasters are watching: Chances of a soggy Election Day on the already waterlogged East Coast. Forecasters note there are indications that a storm of a scale much smaller than Sandy could form along the Atlantic coast and travel northeast. Will it hit Tuesday?
3. CHANGE, CHANGE, CHANGE: Obama embodied it four years ago. Now Romney is trying to cast himself as this year's change agent. The president is refusing to cede ground, trying to defend his turf by arguing that he's made great change and that Americans should stick with him to build on the progress he's made. So who has the strongest claim to the mantle of change?
4. OHIO: The president devotes an entire day to the state with stops in three different cities, making clear just how important Ohio's 18 Electoral College votes are to his re-election. Romney isn't abandoning the state by any means, yet Ohio was among the states Romney's team omitted from a list of battlegrounds where they claimed narrow advantage. Just which way will the state go Tuesday?
5. BLOOMBERG BOUNCE? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — a political independent — is backing Obama over Romney. Will the endorsement help Obama win over independent voters who will be critical in determining who wins Tuesday's election? Or will Bloomberg's nod have little impact in a campaign where there are only a sliver of undecided voters left?