Nashua, New Hampshire (CNN) – In the latest sign of just how tight both presidential campaigns view the race, President Barack Obama rallied voters on Saturday in New Hampshire – a battleground state that caries just four electoral college votes.
Obama carried the state by a 10 points four years ago, but his fortunes in the Granite State now are considerably more in doubt. Obama's victory in 2008 was largely due to support from self-identified independents, who make up more than a third of the electorate.
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Now, all indications suggest rival Mitt Romney, who was governor of neighboring Massachusetts and has a vacation home in New Hampshire, has the edge with independents.
The president's speech to more-than 8,000 supporters outside a picturesque New England middle school in Nashua, was largely a retread of his usual stump speech – touching on themes of lowering taxes for the middle class, promoting women's rights, and winding down the war in Afghanistan.
But perhaps because he was standing not more than 10 miles from the Massachusetts border, Obama also took new swipes at Romney's record while governor there.
"Once he took office, he pushed through a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited 278 of the wealthiest families in the state, and then he raised taxes and fees on middle class families to the tune of $750 million. Does that sound familiar to you?"
Romney jabbed back at the president in an event in Kissimmee, Florida, saying Obama's campaign this year is weaker than it was four years ago.
"Look, four years ago when he ran for office, he spoke about the big things going on. But today his campaign has been reduced to the smallest," Romney said. "He's talking about characters on Sesame Street and silly word games, and attacks me."
"It's like, you know, there are other ways to go after me – just go after me with the truth, you don't need to make up things," Romney continued. "But he makes things up he knows aren't true, and frankly I think that's in part why his campaign isn't making much progress, is because people recognize this is a critical time."
Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement that Obama's comments were "desperate attacks."
"As governor, Mitt Romney worked with Democrats to close a $3 billion deficit, balance four budgets while cutting taxes 19 times, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and lower the Massachusetts unemployment rate to 4.7%," Williams continued, countering Obama's characterization of the former Massachusetts governor's record there.
Ahead of his speech, Obama made a surprise stop a local Teamsters union outpost in Manchester. The president is counting on a strong Democratic turnout to counter Romney's likely advantage with independents in New Hampshire.
"New Hampshire is going to be very important," he told about 60 union members there. "We don't know how this thing is going to play out. These four electoral votes right here could make the difference."