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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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Mitt Romney did not officially campaign today out of respect for those recovering from Sandy or still enduring the giant storm, but he did appear in a crucial swing state before thousands of cheering supporters.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on Romney's balancing act one week before the election.

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Mitt Romney has also accelerated the pace of his campaign. Yesterday, he was in four states and four time zones, as the endurance test intensifies.

NPR's Ari Shapiro is traveling with the Romney campaign.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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Tonight the presidential candidates meet for the final debate of this presidential election. President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney will be in Boca Raton, Florida. The event will focus on foreign policy, which was never expected to rival the economy as a major issue in this campaign. But foreign policy has played a bigger role than anticipated in recent weeks.

For all the attention paid to women in this race, there's another gender gap — with white men.

The Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan campaigned in northeastern Florida on Friday, where thousands of men had descended on Daytona Beach for the annual motorcycle festival Biketoberfest.

A bunch of them were at Willie's Tropical Tattoo smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and listening to music.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. It's a time-honored tradition in presidential campaigns to debate after the debate. Both sides are still squabbling now over who won this week's vice presidential faceoff. And on the campaign trail yesterday, the running mates themselves were out spinning for their side. NPR's Ari Shapiro has this round-up of the day on the trail.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. Later this month, President Obama and Mitt Romney will meet for a debate focused exclusively on foreign policy, but the Republican is not waiting until then to confront the issue. Today, in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney attacked the Obama administration's policies, especially in the Middle East.

MITT ROMNEY: It's clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office.

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During the Republican National Convention last month, I traveled with Mitt Romney's campaign from Tampa, Fla., to the American Legion conference in Indianapolis.

Romney delivered a speech about foreign affairs and national security. Among the thousands of attendees from around the country, I interviewed one woman from Virginia whose quote sparked a conversation among NPR's audience and staff.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm David Greene. Renee Montagne is talking with voters in Colorado this morning for our series First and Main.

It is hard to believe but we are finally nearing the end of a presidential campaign that in many ways started back in January 2009.

INSKEEP: Iowa begins early voting today. Other states begin soon, and the presidential candidates are preparing for a final expensive and possibly brutal final act.

Second of a two-part series

The presidential race is a national contest in name only. In reality, it's being fought in eight or nine swing states around the country.

First of a two-part series

President Obama kicked off the week in the battleground state of Ohio, where he spent much of the time Monday talking about China.

His administration filed a new trade complaint against China with the World Trade Organization on Monday. The White House is challenging Chinese subsidies for auto parts.

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Mitt Romney used the 9/11 anniversary to praise servicemembers and talk about his own views of national security. Democrats have been attacking the Republican nominee for president on foreign policy issues, so Romney went to the National Guard convention in Reno, Nevada, to defend himself. He flew all the way across the country and back in one day to deliver this speech. And NPR's Ari Shapiro listened in.

Mitt Romney's rally in Mansfield, Ohio, on Monday began the way every political event begins. "Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and our country's national anthem."

This is always an uncomfortable moment for me. While I sat at my laptop, most of the reporters around me stood and put their hands over their hearts. This time instead of just sitting and working, I tweeted what I was feeling:

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Mitt Romney has not done any campaigning the last few days. He's in Vermont with senior aides, preparing for debates next month. And even as President Obama prepares for tonight's big speech, campaign aides say he has been preparing for debates, too. NPR's Ari Shapiro asked past debate coaches what happens behind the scenes.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And there are a little more than 60 days left until the presidential election. Democrats are gearing up for their nominating convention, in North Carolina next week. Republicans, of course, held their convention this week, in Florida. And in a moment, we'll hear a report on President Obama's visit to a U.S. military base.

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Tonight, Mitt Romney formally accepts the Republican Party's nomination to be president of the United States. The path to a presidential nomination is never smooth, but by Republican Party standards, this year's primary campaign was pretty choppy. NPR's Ari Shapiro has this look back.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Mitt Romney launched this campaign on June 2nd, 2011, at a farm in New Hampshire.

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Now, as Isaac moves north from Louisiana, it could affect other parts of the country, and we'll be following that story as it develops.

The other big story we have been following this week is the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Today is the final day, and it's an important one for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. He'll officially accept the nomination this evening. Yesterday, Romney took a break from the hubbub of the convention to do a little campaigning elsewhere. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on his getaway.

Wednesday marks the 16th anniversary of President Clinton's welfare overhaul. That law has become a major issue in this year's presidential campaign.

From the window of my room at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Pittsburgh, I can see a sliver of the hotel fitness center. This morning I looked down there and saw a guy with an earpiece. Secret Service.

So I wasn't entirely surprised to walk into the tiny exercise room a little after 7 a.m. and find the Republican vice presidential candidate working out. There was a row of about half a dozen elliptical machines and treadmills, one workout bench, a small rack of dumbbells, an inflatable exercise ball, and a folding workout mat.

Since Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., came on the scene Saturday, Mitt Romney's rallies have felt different. The crowds are bigger. The audience is more raucous. Lines that used to be a routine part of the Republican presidential candidate's stump speech have become rousing battle cries.

At the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C., 1,600 people crowded into the room and thousands more swarmed outside.

"I feel like I'm in Woodstock," gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory exclaimed. "There's a parking jam!"

This week, the presidential campaign has been dominated by debate over the welfare law from the 1990s. It's just the latest example of how both sides are trying to use the Clinton years to their advantage — portraying them as a halcyon golden age.

While President Obama and Mitt Romney offer competing visions every day on the campaign trail, there's also a more superficial aspect to their campaigns.

And on the surface, Obama and Romney events feel completely different.

Take a recent summer night in Leesburg, Va. Dorothy Fontaine had been standing outside of a local high school since the sun was high in the sky.

When asked why she would spend that much time waiting, Fontaine replied: "It's the president of the United States! I mean, isn't it cool to go see the president of the United States?"

Republican Mitt Romney campaigned this weekend in a state that has not seen much of either presidential candidate. Nobody considers Indiana a toss-up in the presidential race.

But the Senate contest there is a different story. It's a very close race, and the result could determine which party controls the Senate next year. So Romney showed up at a barbecue shack in Evansville to give the conservative Republican candidate a boost.

'Help Me Elect This Guy'

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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

A damaging analysis has worked out the implications of Mitt Romney's plan to change the tax code. Romney says if elected, he would cut taxes, and do it in a way that does not expand the federal deficit.

President Obama's national security adviser visited China this week, just as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was attacking the administration's approach to that country.

"The cheating must finally be brought to a stop," Romney said Tuesday in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev. "The president hasn't done it and won't do it, and I will."

China is the world's largest economy after the United States. It is one of the most important — and complicated — foreign relationships the U.S. has.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday. It's a sort of launching pad for a foreign trip that will take Romney to three countries over the next week: the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland.

Romney, a man with a lot of domestic policy experience, is now trying to demonstrate his proficiency with international affairs.

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American flags are flying at half-staff today over the White House, and elsewhere in the country. The shootings in Aurora have silenced politics as usual - at least, for the moment. The Romney and Obama campaigns have both pulled their TV ads from the air in Colorado, a state that had three top political advertising markets in the country this week. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on a somber day on the campaign trail.

In politics, money talks. And money from gay and lesbian donors is talking louder than ever in this election cycle.

That's partly a result of President Obama endorsing same-sex marriage, and it's partly because Republicans are starting to see contributions as well.

That's a huge change from just a few decades ago.

It's a bit less likely now than a week ago that you'll hear people accuse the Supreme Court of being politicized.

That's because this week, the court ended its session with two controversial decisions — neither one of which was decided on the usual and predictable split between the five justices appointed by Republican presidents and the four appointed by Democrats.

But that doesn't make the court any less of a political animal.

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