ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Mitt Romney and President Obama are navigating the shifting sands of the presidential race less than a month before the election. Polls suggest Romney has gained ground since last week's presidential debate.
SIEGEL: Today, both candidates are making stops in swing states and we begin our program with our reporters who are covering them.
CORNISH: NPR's Ari Shapiro is with the Romney campaign and joins us now. And Ari, where are you and what was the message that Governor Romney was putting out to voters today?
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Well, the event was in Madison County, Iowa, as in the bridges of. It took place on a farm with views of corn fields for miles and Romney talked about the impact of Obama administration economic policies on farmers. He went into tax policies, though he did not mention that he opposes wind tax credits that go to many Iowa farmers.
He talked about climate change, saying that if the president takes that on in his second term, that could hurt farms, some of which emit a lot of greenhouse gases. He also said that on environmental and labor regulations that can impact farmers, he will take a very different course from this president. Here is part of what he said.
MITT ROMNEY: You have to have regulation. You need regulation for markets to work effectively. But I'm going to cut back on regulation. I'm going to put a cap on regulation and any new major regulation will have to be approved by Congress. I'm not letting the politicians off the hook.
CORNISH: Now, we've also, Ari, been hearing more and more that Governor Romney's using personal stories on the campaign trail a little differently from the way he has in the last few months. Why the change?
SHAPIRO: Yeah, that's right. And today, in fact, there was a new personal story. He talked about a Navy SEAL he met at a Christmas party who he recently learned was one of those killed at the U.S. consulate at Benghazi, Libya, last month. In the past, Romney really let other people tell personal stories for him, but in the last week, these anecdotes about people in his life have become a standard part of his stump speech.
Clearly, this is an effort to soften Romney, to counter the caricature that the Obama has tried to paint of him. And another part of this effort came today in a piece that his wife Ann wrote for Blog Her, a website featuring female bloggers.
CORNISH: Now, since the debate, Republicans, obviously, have been getting a steady stream of positive news for Governor Romney. So how has the campaign been handling all the good news?
SHAPIRO: Well, they're trying not to get too hyped up about it. Campaign advisor Kevin Madden talked to reporters on the plane today and he said, polls will go up and down but you can't put too much stock in the idea of momentum. He said, I think it's a very elusive thing. That said, with under four weeks to go, the campaign staff are looking more energized and optimistic than I've seen them at any point since the beginning of the general election.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Ari Shapiro traveling with the Romney campaign. Thank you, Ari.
SHAPIRO: You're welcome.
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