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Obama and Romney target military in swing state speeches (+video)

In Virginia on Thursday, both presidential candidates focused on the military and the economy. In polls, President Obama holds a slight lead over his rival Republican Mitt Romney. 

By Jeff Mason and Sam YoungmanReuters / September 27, 2012

President Obama delivers his point during a campaign stop at Virginia Beach's Farm Bureau Live, Thursday, Sept. 27.

Stephen M. Katz/The Virginian-Pilot/AP

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VIRGINIA BEACH/SPRINGFIELD, Va.

President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney battled to capture the military vote in Virginia on Thursday as they tried to squeeze out an advantage in one of the most tightly contested swing states ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

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On Thursday, the two presidential candidates campaigned in the same state for the third straight day, this time in Virginia, a critical battleground. Mitt Romney appeared near Washington, while President Barack Obama spoke in Virginia Beach.

Speaking in the military town of Virginia Beach, Obama called for a new "economic patriotism" to help middle-income voters whose support his campaign is targeting.

Romney spoke at an American Legion hall a few miles from the Pentagon and blamed Obama for $1.2 trillion in potential defense cuts that could bring heavy job losses to the Virginia suburbs of Washington, where the Democrat is popular.

The Pentagon is home to the nation's military command.

Obama's economic patriotism focus was a new angle in his campaign stump speech and was likely aimed at the state's large population of veterans. The message linked to Obama's theme that he - and not Romney - is promoting tax policies and social programs that support the middle class.

"During campaign season you always hear a lot about patriotism. Well, you know what? It's time for a new economic patriotism. An economic patriotism rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong and thriving middle class," Obama told a crowd of some 7,000 in Virginia Beach.

Veterans also featured in a new Obama campaign ad released on Thursday that played Romney's voice from his "47 percent" video over images of working Americans, ex-military members and a young family in a poor, rural setting. No other voices appear in the ad.

Romney describes 47 percent of the electorate in the secretly recorded video as "victims" reliant on federal aid.

Polls show the clip has damaged voters' perception of Romney, though most people will still decide who to vote for based on economic issues. Nationally, Obama is ahead of Romney by 49-42 percent, according a Reuters/Ipsos daily online poll.

As in several other swing states, Obama has opened up a slight lead in the polls in Virginia, which he won in the 2008 election to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to take the state in decades.

Blame for defense cuts 

Bringing the fight to the suburbs of Washington where Obama is well-liked, Romney blamed the incumbent for potential defense cuts that could kick in early next year.

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