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Obama and Romney: Taking the campaign one day at a time

For the staff working on the presidential campaigns it can become all about 'winning the day.' A good media moment for either President Barack Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney can fire up staffers, interns, and volunteers for the next day.

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Both incidents have become threads in the ongoing campaign narrative.

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Other moments just pass by, quickly forgotten in the daily blur of a campaign.

Romney's road team scrambles to set up an impromptu meet-and-greet when his plane lands in Ohio at about the same time as an honor flight of aging veterans just back from visiting Washington memorials.

"I'm drunk!" one vet announces as he carefully makes his way down the ramp. "Better now," he says when he reaches the ground.

"Better now!" Romney repeats.

Everyone poses for the camera.

—Obama's handlers let a muscular Florida pizzamaker hoist the president off the ground in a big bear hug during a drop-by at the man's restaurant.

"Look at these guns!" Obama enthuses about the man's biceps.

Everyone poses for the camera.

In theory, all of this moment-by-moment activity is supposed to reinforce the candidates' broader message to American voters.

"We had a good week last week. There's no doubt about it. We have to have a good week this week and the week after. So I think we take it one day at a time," Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said GOP responders stand poised to tweet, email and otherwise magnify any misstep by the other side.

"We find our openings, pick our spots and then we drive it," she said.

Obama's campaign team members declined to publicly discuss their day-to-day operations, but carry out similar operations.

For any positive motion that can come out of a win-the-day mindset, there's a risk that campaigns can get so caught up in day-to-day skirmishes that they lose sight of the big picture.

Romney senior strategist Stuart Stevens likes to preach the long view. He's been known to remind staffers that "the key is winning the election, not winning the day."

But Begala thinks that message may have gotten lost by the Republicans, saying the Romney campaign has been "all over the map" with talk of the debt clock, violence in Libya, currency manipulation in China, and more.

Without a clear vision, he says, "every day becomes an Etch a Sketch, it becomes a zigzag."

But somebody still has to get up early and get the doughnuts.

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