‘‘I had a bad night,’’ Obama conceded, and he upped his game for the next two debates. That was enough to satisfy nervous Democrats that their candidate was truly in it to win it. But Romney still was feeling the energy when a most unlikely October surprise upended both sides’ game plans in the home stretch of the campaign.
Hurricane Sandy roared up the East Coast and barreled ashore on a destructive path that temporarily overshadowed all else. It gave Obama a chance to jump into action as commander in chief and left Romney struggling to strike the right tone. At week’s end, the final jobs report before Tuesday’s election gave one last economic snapshot, showing the U.S. adding a solid 171,000 jobs and more than a half-million Americans joining the workforce. But the jobless rate was still higher than when Obama took office.
Said Obama: ‘‘We've made real progress.’’
Countered Romney: ‘‘This is not a time for America to settle.’’
For every argument the candidates made in person in their frenzied final days of campaigning, their messages played out many times over in an unending stream of political ads targeting voters in the nine battleground states that will determine which candidate ultimately gets to 270 electoral votes.
More than 915,000 presidential campaign ads have aired since June 1, 45 percent more than over the same period in 2008, according to a report by the Wesleyan Media Project. Those ads aired in far fewer states this year, meaning a smaller number of people have been targeted by a far larger advertising onslaught.
People like Paris Hilliard, 24, who turned out for an Obama rally in Springfield, Ohio, on Friday, and thinks Obama’s on the right track.
‘‘I knew it wasn’t going to be an overnight fix,’’ he said.
Not far away, 75-year-old Walter Myers said he knows far too many people looking for work to believe the improving statistics on joblessness.
On his chest was a sign: ‘‘Nobama.’’
Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Kasie Hunt in Washington, Beth Fouhy in New York and Ann Sanner in Springfield, Ohio, contributed to this report.
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