By TOM RAUM, Associated Press
The presidential race is moving into high gear.
Now that both parties have launched their respective tickets, President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney are revving up for the home stretch, campaigning Friday in battleground states.
They'll be spending most of their time in about a dozen states right to Election Day just 60 days off, although where they pour most of their energies and cash into will no doubt fluctuate to fit changing race dynamics.
Right now the most closely contested states include Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and, with Rep. Paul Ryan on the ticket, his home state of Wisconsin.
The economy remains the No. 1 issue for both sides. Obama and Romney reacted quickly to a new government report showing that, while the nation's jobless rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, only 96,000 jobs were created — not enough to bring the unemployment rate down much lower than where it sits today.
Obama, campaigning with Vice President Joe Biden in New Hampshire, acknowledged, "We need to create more jobs, faster."
Romney, who maintained a low profile during the just-concluded Democratic convention preparing for upcoming presidential debates, campaigned in Iowa.
"We're going in the wrong direction," Romney told reporters in Sioux City. And he didn't mean his campaign itinerary.
"This president tried, but he didn't understand what it takes to make our economy work. I do," Romney said.
Ryan campaigned in the state with the dubious distinction of having the nation's highest unemployment, Nevada, with a jobless rate of 12.0 percent.
"This is not even close to what a recovery looks like," Ryan said in a round of morning television interviews.
Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APCampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2012
With 60 days left until Election Day, here are insights into today's highlights in U.S. politics
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.