President Bush and challenger John Kerry have each picked up key newspaper endorsements that could sway voters in the November 2 election.

The Washington Post  backs Mr. Kerry, saying he has a "stronger claim on the nation's trust" and is "well equipped" to lead the country in a time of danger.

But the Columbus Dispatch endorsed the president, saying he stands "a better chance of leading the nation up the difficult road ahead."

The Post  has a national readership, while the Dispatch is located in Ohio, one of "battleground" states where polls show the candidates in a virtual tie.

Both papers tempered their support with criticism, saying the president has alienated key allies and that Mr. Kerry has constantly shifted his position on Iraq.

Two new national opinion polls show Mr. Bush leading his Democratic Party rival 48 to 46 percent among likely voters.

The Republican incumbent speaks in the western state of New Mexico today, while Mr. Kerry campaigns in Florida.