WHITE HOUSE —
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney continue to campaign across the country with the U.S. presidential election less than two weeks away. President Obama cast an early vote in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, while Mitt Romney held rallies in the key state of Ohio.
Concluding what he called his "48-hour-fly-around-marathon campaign extravaganza" across the country, Obama flew on Air Force One from Los Angeles, California to Tampa, Florida.
Florida is hotly contested, although recent polls have shown Romney ahead there. After Florida it was on to Virginia, another important battleground state where a win could be crucial, as both men seek 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory November 6.
Obama used his appearance in Richmond to comment about a high-profile endorsement from former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"I was proud and humbled to learn that we have Colin Powell's support in this campaign. I am grateful to him for his lifetime of service to his country both as a soldier and as a diplomat, and every brave American who wears this uniform of this country should know that as long as I am your commander-in-chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known," said President Obama.
At each stop, the president used the term "Romnesia" to describe what he calls the former Massachusetts governor's shifting positions on domestic and foreign policy issues.
"If you can't remember what you said just a week ago, if you can't remember the plans on your own web site, and you're worried you might be coming down with a case of Romnesia, I want you to know Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions. We can make you well," said Obama.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on campaign trip in Worthington, Ohio, Oct. 25, 2012
Romney campaigned at a steel company in Ohio where the race is tight. Polls show President Obama with a slight lead, and electoral analysts say the state with its 18 electoral votes could be the deciding factor in the election.
Romney attacked what he called the smallness of Obama's campaign, saying Americans cannot afford four more years of the president's leadership.
"The president's campaign is slipping because he cannot find an agenda. He has been looking for it. There are only 12 days left. He has not had a chance to defend it or to describe it to the American people in our debates, and so the American people now have to recognize that given the big challenges we have and the big election we have, it is time for a big change," said Romney.
Before ending his marathon cross-country campaign trip, President Obama's last stop before returning to Washington was to his hometown of Chicago.
There, he became the first U.S. president to cast his own early ballot in a presidential contest. Obama's wife, Michelle, cast her own early ballot last week.
With the U.S. election only two weeks away, polls continue to show the race essentially tied. Both campaigns are hoping to sway undecided voters, and will be concentrating their efforts in the nine battleground states right up until election day.
Battleground states in the 2012 U.S. presidential election