TODAY   |  October 10, 2012

Romney, Obama battle over Big Bird and abortion

As both presidential candidates stump in Ohio, Mitt Romney made an apparent shift on abortion, which was pounced upon by President Obama’s campaign. Meanwhile, the tug of war over Big Bird has ruffled feathers with the nonprofit behind Sesame Street. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>> to presidential polics and on the ongoing dustup on the campaign trail between mitt romney and the president over of all things big bird . nbc's peter alexander is in akron, ohio . pete, good morning.

>> reporter: matt, good morning to you. there is new evidence this morning that mitt romney has largely erased president obama 's lead here in the crucial battground state of ohio , and this morning both campaigns are trying to capture that special energy that exists in a near election and a narrowing race. with the calendar ticking down to november 6th on a crisp ohio night, mitt romney offered an alternative to the obama calls four more years

>> i think the right chant ought to be four more weeks, four more weeks, all right.

>> reporter: new jersey governor chris christie looked directly into the camera and delivered this blunt message.

>> mr. president, you have lived inside 1600 pennsylvania for four years. if you can't change washington from inside the white house , then let's get you the plane ticket back to chicago you've earned!

>> reporter: also in ohio , trying to hang on to a slim lead, president obama as a new poll showsomney has trimmed his opponent's advantage to four points.

>> i need you fired up. i need you ready to go to vote because we've got some work to do. we've got an election to win. everything that we fought for in 2008 is on the line in 2012 .

>> reporter: ohio is the closest thing to a must-win battleground for both campaigns no. republican president has won the white house without t.obtuse, romney waded into an explosive social issue telling "the des moines register " as president he would not pursue any legislation with regards to abortion, an apparent shift on an issue the obama campaign has tried to use against him. the president's campaign pounced writing we know the truth about where he stands on a woman's right to choose. meanwhile, the campaign's " sesame street " sideshow has turned into a regular feature. opened the president's rally yesterday with a familiar theme sunny day ."

>> somebody is finally getting tough on big bird . who knew that he was driving our deficit?

>> he's focused on saving big is kind of a strange thing in my view because, you see, i'm focused on helping the american people get good jobs and brighter prospects.

>> reporter: both sides were responding to this new obama campaign ad using big bird to mock romney's plan to clip federal subsidies to public broadcasting .

>> mitt romney , taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest.

>> reporter: it's already ruffling feathers with the non-profit behind " sesame street " objecting and asking the campaign to remove " sesame street " characters from their ads. just a short time from now, mitt romney will step into that bus and begin criss-crossing the state. it is a long day for him, a bus tour again to try to win this must-win state. the biggest headline of the week, matt, may still yet to be written. that could come tomorrow after paul ryan and joe biden face off. that, of course, is the first and only vice presidential debate.

>> all right. peter alexander in ohio this morning. peter, thank