(WASHINGTON) — The political détente declared during superstorm Sandy is over as President Obama and Mitt Romney return to the campaign trail on Thursday after days of subdued rhetoric and deferred political events.
After suspending campaigning for days in the wake of the storm, Obama will return to the stump with a three-state swing through Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado on Thursday.
Romney, who campaigned in Florida on Wednesday without doling out his usual barbs directed at the Obama campaign, will spend his day Thursday at three campaign events in Virginia.
Obama got high marks from likely voters for his handling of the storm response, with 78 percent rating his performance positively, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll. Only 8 percent rated it negatively.
In what is likely to be a preview of campaign events to come, Vice President Joe Biden and Paul Ryan sparred on Wednesday over the auto bailout and over what the Obama campaign claims is a misleading Romney ad about Jeep production in China. The ad is being aired in Ohio.
The ad implied that Jeep had moved its production of vehicles from North America to China, when in fact the company said that it is expanding its production to China while also adding jobs in Ohio.
“They are running the most scurrilous ad in Ohio. And I mean this sincerely; I want you to listen — one of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember in my political career,” Biden said in Florida Wednesday.
Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, took several opportunities to fire back at Biden on Wednesday, taking the Obama administration to task for the auto bailout, which has been one of the shining stars of the Obama campaign’s re-election argument.
“The facts, they speak for themselves. President Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, taxpayers still stand to lose $25 billion dollars in the president’s politically managed bankruptcy. These companies, Chrysler in particular — we know this story — are now choosing to expand manufacturing overseas,” Ryan said in Wisconsin. “Those facts are inconvenient for the president, but no one disputes them. The president and the vice president, the problem is they simply can’t defend their record.”
The debate reveals a fierce fight in the final days to win the key battleground state of Ohio, where Obama has held a consistent lead, and where the auto bailout that the Obama campaign trumpets is widely popular.
Polls show Romney trailing Obama there by several points, and a CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday shows Obama holding a 5-point lead over Romney.
Ohio and its 18 Electoral College votes is considered a must win state for both camps. Since 1960, no president has been elected without winning Ohio. ABC News rates the state as a “toss up.”
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