By JULIE PACE, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama, bowing to pressure from Republicans and some Democrats, is launching an effort to define his second-term agenda as the White House race barrels toward the finish.
The broad effort includes new television advertisements, direct mail to voters in battleground states and a sharper emphasis in Obama's campaign speeches on the next four years. Most of the plans are economic-focused, including boosting manufacturing, spending more on education and raising taxes on upper-income earners — all of which previously have been announced.
"We're not there yet. But we've made real progress and the last thing we should do is turn back now," Obama says in a new 60-spot released Tuesday morning, hours after the final presidential debate.
With just two weeks until Election Day and voting under way in many states, the ad and the second-term push amount to Obama's closing argument. Campaign aides are banking on the strategy to woo the narrow band of undecided voters, as well as those who shifted their support to Republican Mitt Romney after his strong performance in the first debate on Oct. 3.
Romney, buoyed by that burst of momentum, has stepped up his criticism of Obama's plans for a second term, accusing the Democrat of failing to say what he would do with four more years. And the Republican's campaign didn't temper its critique following the announcement of Obama's new second-term push.
"The president is just doubling down on the same policies that have led to a stagnant economy, greater government dependency and trillion dollar deficits," said Amanda Henneberg, a Romney spokeswoman.
Polls show the Republican gained nationally after the first debate. But Obama advisers insist they maintain an edge in key battleground states, including Ohio, where every Republican has needed to win in order to claim the presidency.
Obama was joining Vice President Joe Biden for a rally Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, after the president's morning appearance in Florida.
At both stops, Obama is expected to push his second-term agenda. More details on the plan are included in a 20-page booklet called "Blueprint for America's Future" and released Tuesday. Officials say copies of the booklet will be handed out to voters in battleground states.
Obama aides say the race remains competitive in nine states: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin.
Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.
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