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Obama and Romney: Taking the campaign one day at a time

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"It helps you get up at 5 in the morning so that the doughnuts and coffee are ready when the volunteers come in at 6 or 7," says Paul Begala, a Democratic consultant who helped create the 24-hour war room for Bill Clinton's winning presidential campaign in 1992.

Campaign partisans scour every word from the opposition in search of openings to exploit. Most of that turns out to be wasted effort. But no one knows what one sentence could veer off-message and end up becoming a Moment that will reverberate in the political echo chamber.

"Any change in direction is something that we can grasp on to and then use to get into the news cycle and get into the narrative," says Republican National Committee spokesman Kirsten Kukowski, whose emails fly at all hours.

The Democrats pounce on Romney's caught-on-tape comment that it's not his job to worry about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay taxes. Tweets, email, press releases, YouTube clips fly.

The Republicans pounce on Vice President Joe Biden's offhand reference to a middle class that has gotten "buried" over the past four years. More tweets, email, press releases, YouTube clips ensue.

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