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Romney turns up intensity on day one of fall sprint

Brian Snyder / Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes questions from reporters Friday at the airport in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

ABOARD THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PLANE -- After a week of debate prep and minimal campaigning while Democrats soaked up the political spotlight in Charlotte, N.C., Mitt Romney on Friday opened day one of the fall campaign sprint to Nov. 6 by launching himself out of the starting blocks like Usain Bolt at the Olympics.

Aided by access to an ever-growing pot of general election money, the former Massachusetts governor's campaign announced Friday it was taking to the airwaves with no fewer than 15 new television ads in eight swing states.

When the tepid August jobs report numbers were announced at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Romney aides told reporters he'd make himself available for a morning press conference, a rarity for the traveling press following either candidate this cycle. That session with reporters would ultimately be crammed in on the tarmac in Sioux City, Iowa, between Romney's one-on-one interview with Fox News' Brett Baier and the first of two large swing-state rallies of the day.

At his rally in Orange City, in a deeply conservative corner of Iowa carried easily by Rick Santorum in January's caucuses, Romney hammered the president for an "extraordinarily disappointing" convention speech, and tried to offer his own hopeful take on the nation's future.

"I know there’s a lot of bad news out there, but I’m looking beyond the bad news," Romney said. "I’m looking over the hill and seeing what’s going to happen just down the road just a bit. And what’s going to happen is America’s about to come roaring back. I’m absolutely convinced."

Friday evening, Romney was scheduled to host another rally in New Hampshire in a baseball stadium, inviting direct comparison with President Barack Obama, who also held a rally in the Granite State Friday morning.

The full court press continues this weekend, when Romney will attend a rally in Virginia and take in a NASCAR race. On Sunday, Romney will appear in an exclusive interview on NBC's “Meet the Press,” his first appearance on the most-watched Sunday public affairs show since announcing his second run for president. Viewers who change the channel to ABC or CBS will find interviews with Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, who Friday held his own rally in Sparks, Nev.

With 60 days to go, it’s a marathon, and a sprint.