The presidential campaign trail started to heat up Tuesday, as President Barack Obama stumped in Georgia and Florida, Republican rival Mitt Romney rallied in Virginia and Vice President Joe Biden took the stage in Iowa.
All three played in front of crowds of enthusiastic supporters and played off the opposition's talking points.
Romney, speaking in Salem, Virginia, took aim at Obama for the Supreme Court decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law, most of which was struck down. The former Massachusetts governor tipped his hand at how he plans on attacking the president on health care, no matter how the high court rules on Thursday.
"So instead of focusing on immigration, and of course, the big issue which was the economy, and getting the economy going, he instead focused on putting in place this healthcare reform called 'Obamacare,'" Romney said. "Now as you know the Supreme Court is going to be dealing with whether or not Obamacare is constitutional. If it's not, if Obamacare is not deemed constitutional, the first three-and-a-half years of his term would have been wasted on something that does not help the American people. If it is deemed to stand, then I'll tell you one thing, we're going to have to have a president, and I'm that one that's going to get rid of Obamacare, and we're going to stop it on Day One."
Romney said because Obama failed to lead on immigration, the states were forced to step up, which led to the court challenge.
"What we're left with is a bit of a muddle, but what we know is the president failed to lead. He failed to do what he'd said he'd do," he said.
Romney, however, has ducked questions regarding the Arizona law, which he said should serve as a model for the country, yet most of which was deemed unconstitutional in a 5-3 vote.
Riffing off Obama's campaign stump speech in which he calls for giving all Americans "a fair shot," Romney said he agrees with the premise, but not the president's performance.
"Do you think when we pass trillions of dollars of our debt onto the next generation that this president is giving the next generation a fair shot? Do you think that when 50 percent of the kids that graduate from college this year can't find jobs commensurate with their skills, that's giving our college kids a fair shot?" Romney asked of the boisterous crowd, which shouted "No!" in response to each question.
"If there's ever been a president of the United States that has not given a fair shot to the middle income families of America, it is President Obama and that is why he's going to be replaced in November," Romney said.
Biden, who spoke in Waterloo, Iowa, went hard at Romney's career, both in the private sector as head of Bain Capital, a venture capital and investment firm, and as Massachusetts governor. Citing news reports about Romney's tenure at Bain and the company's role in outsourcing American workers from the companies it invested in, Biden sought to alienate Romney from the middle class.
"His whole career, Mitt Romney has looked at the American worker as part of the problem," Biden said. "The president and I see you, the American worker, as part of the solution."
Biden also doubled down on a theme Obama has been using, taking swipes at Romney's honesty, saying, "there's a huge disconnect between what he says, what he means and what he's done."
Obama, who spoke in Atlanta, largely reiterated the speech he gave on Monday in New Hampshire, which contrasts the differences between himself and Romney on social and economic issues.
A new Gallup poll shows 81 percent of respondents finding Obama "likable" compared to 64 percent for Romney. Obama also scores better than Romney when it comes to understanding the problems of every day Americans, with 58 percent saying Obama does versus 46 percent saying the same of Romney. But more people trust Romney to effectively manage government than Obama, 53 percent for Romney and just 45 percent for Obama.
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.