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AP News

5 things to watch for in the campaign homestretch

WASHINGTON (AP) — Five things to watch for in the final week of the presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney:

1. OBAMA BACK ON THE ROAD: After a three-day absence from the campaign trail, the president dives back into the battleground states with events planned in Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin. Does Obama, who is locked in a close race, strike a less aggressive tone than he has in the past, out of sensitivity to the storm victims? Or does he go for the jugular against Romney?

2. ANY MORE STATES? Republicans have made moves into Democratic-leaning territory in recent days, running ads in Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Now there's word a GOP-leaning super political action committee is launching TV ads in New Mexico to try to take advantage of tightening polls. Will they make a play for — or feign interest in — any others?

3. AUTO ADS: Romney's team is standing by its campaign ads that suggest that General Motors and Chrysler are adding jobs in China at the expense of Ohio. U.S. automakers have criticized Romney over the ads. So have Ohio newspaper editorial pages. And Vice President Joe Biden has called the ads "an outrageous lie." Will Romney's team bow to pressure and yank the ads?

4. WHO GETS IGNORED? Watch both candidates' travel schedules to get a sense of the critical states they need to reach the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory. It's a good bet that both Obama and Romney will limit their time to the nine or so most competitive states and hit only the most important of them in the campaign's final hours.

5. MORE NASTINESS? The campaign is entering the final-stretch period where ugly campaign tactics and below-the-belt claims are made as each candidate — and their backers — do whatever it takes to ensure victory on Election Day. Just how bad will it get?

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