By JEFF ZELENY and JIM RUTENBERG –
Ohio, whose 18 electoral votes are critical to Mr. Romney’s candidacy, has bedeviled him like no other battleground state. His prospects were so shaky two weeks ago that his advisers openly discussed the narrow path to winning the necessary 270 electoral votes without Ohio, which every Republican president in the nation’s history has carried.
But as the race for the White House takes on a new air of volatility after President Obama’s off-kilter debate performance last week — a poll from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center on Monday suggested that Mr. Romney had wiped out the president’s lead among voters nationally — Mr. Romney is displaying new vigor in his fight for Ohio. The state, along with Florida, Iowa and Virginia, is now at the heart of his strategy for the remaining 28 days of the campaign.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are both visiting Ohio on Tuesday, the final day of voter registration here, but Mr. Romney is sticking around for one of his most intensive bursts of campaigning yet. His increased presence is a response to pleas from state Republican leaders to invest more time and attention in the regions where he needs to turn out voters.