BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) - Their debates now history, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday open a two-week sprint to Election Day powered by adrenaline, a boatload of campaign cash and a determination to reach Nov. 6 with no would-have, should-have regrets in their neck-and-neck fight to the finish.
From here, the candidates will vastly accelerate their travel, ad spending and grass-roots mobilizing in a race that's likely to cost upward of $2 billion by the time it all ends.
All the focus now is on locking down support in the nine states whose electoral votes are still considered up for grabs: Colorado, Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia. No surprise then, that Obama campaigns Tuesday in Florida and Ohio while Romney heads West to Nevada and Colorado.
Neither candidate scored a knockout punch in their third and last debate Monday, as both men reined in the confrontational sniping that had marked their last testy encounter. And though the stated topic this time was foreign policy, both kept circling back to their plans for strengthening the fragile U.S. economy - Job 1 to American voters.
Closing out their trio of debates, Obama concisely summed up this pivot point in Campaign 2012: "You've now heard three debates, months of campaigning and way too many TV commercials. And now you've got a choice."
The president framed it as a choice between his own record of "real progress" and the "wrong and reckless" ideas of Romney.
Romney countered by sketching "two different paths" offered by the candidates, one of decline under Obama and one of brighter promise from himself.
"I know what it takes to get this country back," he pledged.
With polls showing the race remains incredibly tight, first lady Michelle Obama made a prediction before the candidates left Florida that neither side would dispute: "This election will be closer than the last one - that's the only guarantee."
Obama made it look easy in 2008: He won 365 electoral votes to 173 for Republican John McCain. And he got 53 percent of the popular vote, to 46 percent for McCain.
With 270 electoral votes needed for victory, Obama at this point appears on track to win 237 while Romney appears to have 191. The other 110 are in the hotly contested battleground states.
The candidates' strategies for getting to 270 are implicit in their itineraries for the next two weeks and in their spending on campaign ads.
Obama and his Democratic allies already have placed $47 million in ad spending across battlegrounds in the campaign's final weeks, while Romney and the independent groups supporting his candidacy have purchased $53 million, significantly upping their buys in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. And both sides are expected to pad their totals.
After Obama and Vice President Joe Biden campaign together in Ohio on Tuesday, the president splits off on what his campaign is describing as a two-day "around-the-clock" blitz to six more battleground states. He'll be in constant motion - making voter calls and sleeping aboard Air Force One as he flies overnight Wednesday from Nevada to Tampa, Fla.
The vice president is midway through a three-day tour of uber-battleground Ohio, and Obama's team contends its best way of ensuring victory is a win there. The campaign says internal polling gives Obama a lead in the Midwestern battleground state, in large part because of the popularity of the president's bailout of the auto industry.
But even if Obama loses Ohio, his campaign sees another pathway to the presidency by nailing New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado.
Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are picking up the pace of their campaigning as well, and their schedule reflects an overarching strategy to drive up GOP vote totals in areas already friendly to the Republican nominee.
The Denver suburbs. Cincinnati. Reno, Nev. They're places that typically vote Republican, but where McCain fell short of the margins he needed to defeat Obama. To win in all-important Ohio, the GOP nominee must outperform McCain in typically Republican areas.
Romney and Ryan start their two-week dash in Henderson, Nev., then hopscotch to the Denver area for a rally with rocker-rapper Kid Rock and country music's Rodney Atkins at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Then Romney heads back to Nevada, on to Iowa and then east to Ohio for three overnights in a row. By week's end, he's likely to be back in Florida.
The following week brings a significant uptick in Romney's schedule. Aides say he'll touch down in two or three states a day, or hold that many daily events in big states like Florida.
Both candidates are done holding fundraisers - no doubt a happy thought for the two of them.
But hold on to your wallets: Supporters will still be out there raising money, and there will be plenty of emails asking for cash right up to the finish.
The president began the month with a little less cash available than Romney, but both have impressive sums