(WASHINGTON) — President Obama and Mitt Romney Thursday ended a brief truce for Superstorm Sandy, and made it clear as they returned to the campaign trail that there would be no more Mr. Nice Guy.
Romney stumped in Virginia, hoping to lock up the battleground state in the waning days of the campaign.
Obama began his day in Wisconsin, another key state where a Marist poll released Thursday indicated he had a 49-46 lead on Romney.
In his first campaign event since Saturday, Obama launched a three-state swing across the country in Green Bay, a battleground where he and Romney have been separated by only a few points in recent polls.
Before easing back into his usual stump speech, the president evoked the superstorm’s devastating impact on parts of the East Coast.
“We’ve also been inspired these past few days because when disaster strikes, we see America at its best. All the petty differences that consume us in normal times all seem to melt away,” Obama said. “There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, there are just fellow Americans.”
It wasn’t long, however, before Obama revisited familiar lines of attack against Romney.
“You’ll be making a choice between two fundamentally different visions of America—one where we return to the top-down policies that crashed our economy,” Obama said before being interrupted by boos from the audience, “or a future that’s built on a strong and growing middle class.”
“Don’t boo, Wisconsin—vote,” he added.
Romney, who just a day before campaigned in Florida without doling out his usual barbs directed at the Obama campaign, spent Thursday in Virginia where he launched a new line of attack against Obama focused on Obama’s suggestion that he would create a secretary of business.
“We don’t need a secretary of business to understand business. We need a president who understands business and I do,” Romney said.
The Romney campaign also launched a new ad Thursday morning, which lampooned Obama for wanting to “add another bureaucrat” in response to any problem.
Virginia is considered a “toss up” state in the ABC News political map.
Obama has events planned in Nevada and Colorado Thursday, and Romney has two additional events in Virginia.
This final frenetic stage in the campaign comes after an unusual storm-induced hiatus from the most vitriolic political attacks. During that time, Obama has been off the trail and focused on storm relief, while Romney and his surrogates have focused on striking the right balance between stumping for votes and being circumspect in the face of a devastating natural disaster.
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 eight percent rated it negatively.
And most voters gave Romney positive marks for his handling of the storm.
The two candidates, however, remain virtually tied in most polls, including the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll.
The ad wars also heated up significantly Thursday, with both campaigns releasing new spots.
The Romney campaign pushed out the “Secretary of Business” and a web video called “Bill’s Barbecue” which pinned Obama with the blame for the shuttering of an 82 year-old business. Romney visited the Bills Barbecue business owners Thursday during his campaigning.
The Obama campaign released a new spot, “Solid,” touting the endorsement of Republican and former Defense Secretary Colin Powell. The ad will air in 10 states including New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Virginia.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio