In several of those states, women voters hold the key.
After trailing Obama for months among women voters, Romney has started gaining ground in recent weeks. A new Associated Press-GfK poll released Thursday shows that Romney has erased Obama's 16-point advantage among women, while the president, in turn, has largely eliminated Romney's edge among men.
Obama aides see Romney's refusal thus far to pull his support for Mourdock as an opportunity to cast the GOP nominee as extreme on women's health issues and expose what they say is Romney's attempts to moderate those views for political gain.
On "The Tonight Show" Wednesday, Obama criticized Mourdock for his comments, saying "rape is rape" and distinctions offered by the Republican candidate "don't make any sense to me."
Obama was campaigning with all the signs that his presidency is on the line, crossing the country Wednesday with rallies in Iowa, Colorado and Nevada and appearing on the "The Tonight Show" in California. On Thursday, Obama was so not much starting his day as continuing his last one. After spending the night on Air Force One, he was campaigning in Tampa, Fla., Richmond, Va., and Cleveland before heading back to the White House.
Shortly after 7 a.m. and less than five hours after his day ended in Las Vegas, Obama was at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop near downtown Tampa, and minutes later he delivered the still warm doughnuts to a firehouse in Tampa. He said he wanted to come by early — noting he is not often out this early — to say thank you for all they did.
Obama's campaign also announced joint rallies Monday with Bill Clinton in Orlando, Fla., Youngstown, Ohio, and Prince William County, Va. The president also picked up an endorsement from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican who supported Obama in 2008. Powell praised Obama's handling of the economic recovery, telling "CBS This Morning," ''I think we've begun to come out of the dive and we're gaining attitude."