Obama and Romney fight to claim mantle of 'change'

President Obama: "When disaster strikes, we see America at its best"

US President Barack Obama has returned to the campaign trail and to his 2008 theme of change, with five days to go until the US election.

The Democratic incumbent is campaigning in three key election states, while his Republican rival Mitt Romney held rallies in Virginia.

Mr Obama told voters not to be fooled by his challenger, who has been trying to seize the mantle of change.

The election is neck and neck, both nationally and in key state contests.

Both candidates await the latest unemployment figures on Friday. Last month's report showed the US jobless rate falling below 8% for the first time in several years.

Mr Obama held off campaigning for three days this week as he directed the federal response to the super-storm Sandy. Mr Romney had also amended his schedule and toned down his attack on the president.

On Thursday, Mr Obama gained the endorsement of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who argued the president was a better choice on climate change issues given Sandy's impact.

'More bureaucracy'

The cyclone has left serious flooding and massive power outages along the US East Coast.

Race to the White House

Mr Obama began his day at an airport tarmac in Wisconsin, telling a crowd that he knows "what change looks like because I've fought for it".

He warned the former Massachusetts governor would reduce regulations for banks and cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

"Governor Romney has been using all his talents as a salesman to dress up these very same policies that failed our country so badly - the very same policies we've been cleaning up after for the past four years - and he is offering them up as change," Mr Obama said.

The Romney campaign has released a new ad attacking the president for proposing the creation of a secretary of business post to co-ordinate the response to the nation's economic woes.

The TV ad, released on Thursday, argued that Mr Obama's solution simply amounted to more bureaucracy.

"We've said all along this election is a choice between the status quo and real change - change that offers promise that the future will be better than the past," campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.

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Mayor Bloomberg might make a difference”

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In Roanoke, Virginia, Mr Romney reiterated his argument that he was the candidate of change.

"We've seen what his [President Obama's] policies have produced - the only way to get this economy going is the kind of bold change I've described, real change from day one," he told supporters at a window company.

"That'll get this economy going, create jobs, rising take-home pay. We'll have a very different future when I get elected."

Mr Romney has also resumed attacks on Mr Obama's signature healthcare reform law.

Bloomberg's endorsement

Mr Obama continued to campaign stops in Nevada and Colorado, where he told a rally of some 10,000 people in Boulder that voters faced "a choice between two fundamentally different visions of America".

The president will spend the day on Friday in Ohio. Mr Romney will campaign throughout Wisconsin and Ohio on Friday.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Republican and now independent, endorsed the president on Thursday.

He cited the president's policies related to climate change, especially in the wake of heavy flooding in his city from Sandy.

Mayor Bloomberg also argued that Mr Romney had "reversed course" on "sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care".

In response, Mr Obama released a statement: "While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time."

In the wake of the storm, state election officials are ordering generators, moving voting locations and figuring out how to transport poll workers.

But the outcome of the contest is not expected to be affected by Sandy, as the states with the most damage are all but decided for Mr Obama.

On Thursday, Mr Romney announced he would make a stop in Pennsylvania on Sunday, a state he had not previously campaigned in as the Republican nominee.

Governor Mitt Romney: "Attacking me doesn't make an agenda, it doesn't get people back to work"

Polls suggest the Republican is still behind in the north-eastern state, but Mr Obama's lead has shrunk there.

A senior campaign aide told Reuters news agency that Ann Romney believed conditions were more favourable for her husband in Pennsylvania, as she campaigned there recently on his behalf.

Mrs Romney made several stops in Ohio on Thursday, while Mr Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, campaigned in Nevada.

Vice-President Joe Biden visited Iowa, while Michelle Obama campaigned in Florida and former President Bill Clinton made stops in both Wisconsin and Ohio.

The BBC will be providing full online live results of the US presidential election on 6 November. More details here

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