Obama Kicks Off Eight-State Campaign TourBy HELENE COOPER
Damon Winter/The New York Times
DAVENPORT, Iowa — Air Force One landed at Quad Cities International Airport at 9 a.m. Central Time on Wednesday, to begin President Obama’s two-day round-the-clock attack on swing states. The 747 is scheduled to touch down at Andrews Air Force Base just before midnight Eastern Time on Thursday.
During the 38 hours in between, Mr. Obama will hit a whopping eight states in a hard-charging opening burst to try to accelerate ahead of Mitt Romney in the last two weeks of this dead-heat campaign. So focused is Mr. Obama on gaining ground that he will be making calls to swing-state voters from the air, and he will spend Wednesday night not in a comfy hotel bed, but on his plane, on a red-eye flight to Florida.
It’s too bad he doesn’t drink coffee; he could surely use it.
“We’re gonna pull an all-nighter!” a revved-up Mr. Obama told a crowd of 3,500 at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds here in Davenport. “No Sleep! We’re starting in Iowa, then we’re gonna go to Colorado, then Nevada, California, then we’re gonna go to Florida, then Virginia, Ohio, and then we’re going to Illinois to vote.”
Perhaps aware of his limited time in each place, Mr. Obama ended his speech in Davenport after a short 16 minutes, so he could get back to his jam-packed schedule.
The furious campaign is a sign of the tight race, which has shown very little sign of movement in the past three weeks. In the next 13 days, Mr. Obama is focusing almost exclusively on eight swing states, where both campaigns believe the race will be won or lost.
Of those, none is more important than Ohio, where Mr. Obama ended his day yesterday, in Dayton, and where he will be again tomorrow evening, in Cleveland. Campaign aides have been working on the Ohio ground game furiously, urging Obama supporters to the polls for early voting.
Speaking to reporters on the bus headed back to Quad Cities airport after Mr. Obama’s first stop on Wednesday, David Plouffe, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said that the Obama campaign, despite a narrative he said has developed in the press about Mr. Romney gaining momentum, is feeling good about the swing states. Mr. Plouffe said the Romney campaign “is overstating their Electoral College situation.”
But similar to what Mr. Obama did during the Democratic primaries in 2008 versus Hillary Clinton, Mr. Obama’s campaign seemed very focused on the numbers, as they relate to the Electoral College. That means working on the ground game and get-out-the-vote effort among key Democratic constituencies, like African-Americans and Latinos.
For instance, Mr. Plouffe said, “there are hundreds of thousands more Latino and African-American voting than in 2008.”
Mr. Obama did not personally wade into the brewing fight over remarks this week by Richard Mourdock, the Republican running for a Senate seat in Indiana, that God intended for women who got pregnant as a result of rape to have their babies.
But his spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, did, and promptly tied it to Mr. Romney, who has endorsed Mr. Mourdock. “The president felt those comments were outrageous and demeaning to women,” she told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Iowa. “This is an issue where Mitt Romney is starring in an ad” for Mr. Mourdock “and it is perplexing that he wouldn’t demand to have that ad taken down.”
This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 24, 2012
A previous version of this post misstated the number of states President Obama will visit on his campaign tour. Mr Obama will visit eight, not nine.