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Obama's team seeks to counter GOP message

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats want to cause a stir — or at least stay in the conversation — while the spotlight is on Republicans next week at the GOP convention in Tampa.

President Barack Obama and his campaign are seeking to counter Mitt Romney's message and try head off any dramatic climb for the Republican challenger in post-convention polls, staging events around the nation next week.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will campaign in four battleground states and Obama's campaign will hold events around the country aimed at attracting women voters. The "Romney-Ryan: Wrong for Women" events will start with the Women Vote 2012 Summit in Las Vegas on Saturday with appearances by White House advisers Valerie Jarrett and Cecilia Munoz and actress Natalie Portman and include similar gatherings aimed at women voters in seven cities next week.

In the Rust Belt, Obama's campaign is planning an economic-themed bus tour through Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. And in Tampa, Democrats plan daily events with party officials and middle-class Americans to counter the Republican ticket.

"Our goal is to cut through the political chatter and speak directly to Americans about the clear choice they face in this election between moving the country forward, and going back to the same failed policies of the past," said Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter.

Both campaigns view their party conventions as important periods to lay out the themes of the fall campaign and tell the story of their candidate to a national audience. The party along the sidelines often tries to hold events in the host city to grab attention and counter their opponent's message.

Obama's team notes that presidential challengers typically receive a bump in support from their party convention and expect Romney to benefit from the weeklong exposure. But by holding their convention in Charlotte, N.C., beginning Sept. 4, right on the heels of the Republican convention, Democrats contend they can quickly rebut Romney's message.

Obama will travel to college towns in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia next week, courting young voters and college students while Biden will travel to the Tampa area on Monday — putting him in the city on the opening day of the GOP convention. On Tuesday, the vice president makes stops in St. Augustine, Fla., and Orlando, appearing with actress Eva Longoria.

First lady Michelle Obama will appear on CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday during the heart of the GOP convention and make other appearances during the week.

"With just 75 days left, we're not going to cede four days of this campaign just because of a party convention," Cutter said.

In years past, the party's nominee would typically take time off during their opponent's nominating convention but given the competitive race, both campaigns are expected to court voters throughout the conventions. Romney's campaign said they expected the former Massachusetts governor to hold events during the Democratic party's convention.

Phil Singer, who helped coordinate Democrats' message during the 2004 Republican convention, said it's always difficult to "crash the other side's party" because the convention carries with it a captive media audience, primetime programming and tens of millions of dollars behind the high-profile speeches.

But Singer said "in a media environment that's on steroids as this one is, any time you're not feeding the shark, the shark is feeding on you."


Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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