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political notebook

Both parties see gains in voter registration

Mitt Romney shook hands in Asheville, N.C.

Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Mitt Romney shook hands in Asheville, N.C.

WASHINGTON — A robust registration push by President Obama’s reelection campaign has resulted in more Democrats than Republicans on the voter rolls in most battleground states, including Florida and Nevada, according to data from state election boards.

But Republicans have had their own registration successes, narrowing the Democratic advantage since 2008 in many of the battlegrounds, including Iowa. And party officials say they have put more resources into persuading independent voters who are already registered to cast their ballots for party nominee Mitt Romney.

President Obama campaigned in Coral Gables, Fla., on Thursday.

LYNNE SLADKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Obama campaigned in Coral Gables, Fla., on Thursday.

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‘‘We do not put as big an emphasis on voter registration programs as we do in talking to and persuading independents,’’ said Rick Wiley, political director for the Republican National Committee. ‘‘I would prefer to go in and talk to an independent who is already registered. They have a voter history.’’

The president’s campaign, which promoted the voter registration data Thursday, argues that its ability to register hundreds of thousands of new voters is indicative of battleground state field operations that also have the resources to get voters to the polls, particularly during early voting.

And campaign officials say a deeper look at the registration numbers shows an uptick in new Hispanic voters and voters under the age of 30 — voting blocs where the president has an advantage.

Obama’s registration and get-out-the-vote operations in 2008 played a crucial role in his getting elected. With the White House race tightening less than four weeks from Election Day, the Democratic campaign is banking on its organization in the battleground states to give Obama an edge.

Deadlines to register for the November election have passed in many states, but the totals are expected to shift somewhat in the coming days as last-minute entries are counted.

The most current data, available online from state election boards, give Democrats a registration advantage in most of the battleground states with party identification: Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada.

The party also significantly outpaces Republican registration in Pennsylvania by more than 1 million voters. That is part of the reason Romney’s campaign has not made a serious effort to compete in the state.

Republicans have a voter registration advantage in Colorado and New Hampshire.

Voters in three other battleground states — Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin — do not register with a party when they sign up to vote.

Obama cramming for next debate

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — To campaign or to study? For President Obama, that has become the question.

On the calendar, there are 25 days until the election. But if there is one thing that emerged after Obama’s performance in last week’s debate in Denver, it is that it may be better for him to spend his time preparing for the next one than to stump for votes.

So his advisers are sending the president to study hall. He will hole up in Williamsburg, Va., starting Saturday to get ready for debate No. 2 on Long Island, N.Y., on Tuesday, and then will do the same thing next weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat in rural Maryland.

His aides have been impressing upon him the need to aggressively confront Mitt Romney — who spent part of Thursday on debate practice himself — for shifting his position on a variety of issues.

On Thursday at the University of Miami’s basketball arena, the president delivered a full-throated, derisive attack on Romney’s move to the center.

Romney, the president charged, ‘‘is trying to go through an extreme makeover.’’

“After running for more than a year in which he called himself severely conservative, Mitt Romney’s trying to convince you that he was severely kidding,’’ Obama said.

Yet the new study schedule — which leaves the president with a bare 16 days to campaign after debate preparation — could take away a potent weapon: himself.

Romney faces similarly vexing demands on his time. After debate practice Thursday, he traveled to Asheville, N.C.. A key reason for Romney’s trip there was to pay a visit to the Rev. Billy Graham, who at 93 remains a potent symbol to evangelical Christian voters.

Romney also lambasted the Obama campaign over the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans last month.

At a rally, Romney read aloud comments from Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter on the attack. ‘‘The entire reason that this has become the, you know, political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan,’’ she told CNN.

‘‘No, President Obama,’’ Romney said. ‘‘It’s an issue because this is the first time in 33 years that a United States ambassador has been assassinated. Mr. President, this is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of Sept. 11. President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you and your administration to admit that this was a terrorist attack.’’

Romney phones girl mocked for T-shirt

PHILADELPHIA — Mitt Romney telephoned the family of a 16-year-old Philadelphia girl who has said that she was mocked by her geometry teacher for wearing a Romney ­T-shirt in class.

Romney campaign spokesman Rick Gorka said Thursday that the Republican presidential candidate called Samantha Pawlucy’s home on Wednesday.

Gorka said that while Samantha wasn’t home, her mother was and that Romney told her that he appreciated her daughter’s courage.

The telephone call was first reported by the Pennsylvania website KeystoneReport.com.

The girl briefly returned to school Tuesday. But her father said she never made it to class because she felt uncomfortable.

The teacher has apologized and awaits the results of a school district investigation.

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