THE RACE: Obama, Romney spar in battleground VA
President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney are chasing each other around the map. It's just not always clear who's doing the chasing and who's being chased.
It's a typical strategy late in a tight race as the number of toss-up states and remaining undecided voters both dwindle.
When candidates shadow each other, they try to build support directly but also hope to offset attention to their rival's visit.
Both campaigned in Virginia, which went for Obama in 2008 but has generally trended Republican over the past decade or so. On Wednesday, they both stumped in hotly-contested Ohio and late last week they were in Florida on the same day.
On Thursday, Obama spoke at a farm bureau in Virginia Beach, a generally Republican area that is home to many military families, retirees and civilian defense workers.
His Republican challenger campaigned at a veteran's event in Springfield, a Washington D.C. suburb in Fairfax County sometimes viewed as toss-up territory with more Republican voters than closer-in suburbs.
Romney vowed to block "devastating job losses" to the military if elected and to nourish a military "so strong that no one wants to test it."
Meanwhile, the air wars intensified, with both campaigns spending heavily on advertising in battleground states.
In a new two-minute spot, Obama claims Romney's proposals to heal the economy would just "double down on the same trickle-down policies that led to the crisis in the first place." Fired back Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul: "In the time it takes his latest ad to run, our national debt grows by at least another $5 million."
And there was more sobering economic news Thursday. The government said the economy grew more slowly last spring than previously thought — at an anemic 1.3 percent rate, revised downward from 1.7 percent.
"We're not where we need to be. Not yet," Obama acknowledged at his event.
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