THE RACE: Both campaigns busy during weekend lull

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Associated Press

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 31 at 3:02 PM

In the short break between conventions, President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney are dashing around the country trying to make the most of the next few days.

Newly anointed Republican nominee Romney is angling to catch the crest of a hoped-for surge in the polls and Obama is ready to bask in the glow of his party's sendoff at next week's Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Candidates can usually count on post-convention spikes in their approval ratings. And more often, challengers enjoy larger bumps than incumbents.

The spikes are often short lived, as John McCain and Sarah Palin found in 2008. But they're savored while they last.

"Tonight was their night," Obama tweeted shortly after midnight. "But our focus must be on tomorrow."

But Romney and ticket mate Paul Ryan worked to hold the focus on them, teaming up with their wives Friday for a lively airport rally in Lakeland, Fla., before going their separate ways.

"We want to be held accountable for the promises we made last night," Romney said. "It's going to be an exciting ride," said Ann Romney.

They then headed for storm-drenched New Orleans while Ryan split off for Virginia in a separate campaign plane.

Obama was meeting with troops in Fort Bliss, Texas.

While the White House billed the president's trip as nonpolitical, Obama's campaign seemed likely to contrast the visit with Romney's failure to speak about U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq in his acceptance speech. Obama campaigns Saturday in Iowa.

Democrats poked fun at actor-director Clint Eastwood's rambling convention conversation with an empty chair representing an imaginary Obama.

The Obama campaign tweeted a photo of the back of the president's Oval Office chair, with Obama's head peeking over it. "This seat's taken," was the caption.

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Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APCampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2012

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