If something about President Obama on the campaign trail these days feels both familiar and new, it may be that he's more like the Obama the nation first fell for in 2008. Fresh off of a three-day hiatus that included serving as comforter-in-chief to victims of Hurricane Sandy and an impressive display of bipartisanship with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the president has been re-energized, exuding confidence as he bounds on stage at campaign rallies clad in his commander-in-chief bomber jacket.
It's the kind of change his supporters have been hoping for since he handed Republican rival Mitt Romney so much of the momentum he'd gained after the Democrats' successful national convention at their first debate. Obama has dropped the facetious references to Romnesia, a term coined to define Romney's shifting positions, while at the same time calling into question whether voters can really trust the Republican.
"You know where I stand and you know what I believe. You know I tell the truth. And you know I’ll fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how," a hoarse Obama told supporters at a campaign rally in Ohio Sunday night.
He ticked off a number of his administration's achievements, such as the auto industry bailout, an end to the war in Iraq and the creation of 5.5 million new jobs.
"So when I tell you I know what real change looks like, it’s because I’ve fought for it; because I delivered it; because I’ve got the scars to prove it — because that’s why my hair went gray. And, Ohio, after all we’ve been through together, we can’t give up on it now. We’ve got to keep on going and bring some more change to America. We’ve got more work to do."
The former Massachusetts governor argued at a stop in Ohio on Sunday that actions speak louder than words.
"Talk is cheap," the Republican nominee said at a campaign event in Cleveland. "But a record is real, and it's earned with real effort. Change is not measured in words you speak, change is measured in achievement."
A couple of days earlier, Romney warned that a second term for Obama would result in a battle with congressional Republicans over the nation's debt ceiling and ultimately a government shutdown.
"He's ignored them, he's attacked them, he's blamed them," Romney said of Obama and Congress in remarks delivered in Wisconsin, another crucial state. "The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy."
David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said that Romney's warnings, coupled with other accusations such as the campaign ad in which he implied that auto jobs are being sent to China, refuted by the heads of General Motors and Chrysler, are signs of desperation as the election winds down.
"Romney has tried everything and it ain't going to happen," Bositis said. "He doesn't have anymore arguments."
Bositis said that endorsements such as those from The Economist, "not a liberal publication," and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also are signs that Romney's arguments and shift to the center aren't working.
More important, Bositis said the numbers don't lie and while the margins are as tight as can be, Romney isn't ahead in enough battleground states to win the race.
"He needs to win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa and if he doesn't win Ohio, then he has to win Wisconsin or Pennsylvania," Bositis said. "And the way it looks right now, if Obama's people get their voters out, and they've done it before, Obama's going to win."
In the latest polls, Obama and Romney are in a dead heat. A survey released by CNN/ORC on Nov. 4 put them both at 49 percent. In the final NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Obama has the lead at 48 percent and at 49 percent in the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.
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(Photos from left: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images,AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)