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Ari Shapiro

Details are starting to come out about President Obama's second inauguration next month. The co-chairmen include some leaders of the Democratic Party and the business world as well as actress Eva Longoria. A record crowd came to the nation's capital in 2009 to witness the country's first black president take the oath of office, but this event is expected to be less flashy.

The bows are tied, the garlands are hung, and the White House is aglow for the holidays. Volunteers from all over the country handled the decorations with care, and on Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama showed off their efforts to military families. This year's theme is "Joy to All."

Ship Capt. Pete Hall from Louisville, Ky., followed family tradition by helping with the decorations. His grandfather was the chief usher of the White House from 1938 to 1957. "So this is part of my family heritage," Hall says.

On Wednesday, President Obama will meet with middle-class Americans who will be affected by a tax increase if the country goes over the fiscal cliff. The White House put out a call for their stories last week.

That dialogue with the American people is part of a broader White House effort to keep campaign supporters engaged during Obama's second term. It's a big change from the first term — and it's not an easy undertaking.

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Presidential pardons usually take the world by surprise. There's no advance notice — the White House just sends out an announcement with the names of those receiving clemency. Thanksgiving is one lighthearted exception.

On Wednesday, President Obama will once again take part in the traditional turkey pardoning at the White House. But while the business of pardoning humans is more serious, it's also increasingly rare.

Republicans and Democrats agree: Election season may have ended just four days ago, but it's already time to get back to work. In this case, "back to work" might mean "back to fighting."

Leaders in both parties made their opening bids Friday on how to deal with the tax, spending and debt problems that face the country at the end of this year.

While the scenario echoes last year's spending battle, there are some differences that could push the parties toward the resolution they never reached last time around.

Where The President Stands

The postmortems for Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign are rolling in.

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Mitt Romney has also accelerated the pace of his campaign. Yesterday, he was in four states and four time zones, as the endurance test intensifies.

NPR's Ari Shapiro is traveling with the Romney campaign.

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For all the attention paid to women in this race, there's another gender gap — with white men.

The Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan campaigned in northeastern Florida on Friday, where thousands of men had descended on Daytona Beach for the annual motorcycle festival Biketoberfest.

A bunch of them were at Willie's Tropical Tattoo smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and listening to music.

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During the Republican National Convention last month, I traveled with Mitt Romney's campaign from Tampa, Fla., to the American Legion conference in Indianapolis.

Romney delivered a speech about foreign affairs and national security. Among the thousands of attendees from around the country, I interviewed one woman from Virginia whose quote sparked a conversation among NPR's audience and staff.

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And I'm David Greene. Renee Montagne is talking with voters in Colorado this morning for our series First and Main.

Second of a two-part series

The presidential race is a national contest in name only. In reality, it's being fought in eight or nine swing states around the country.

First of a two-part series

President Obama kicked off the week in the battleground state of Ohio, where he spent much of the time Monday talking about China.

His administration filed a new trade complaint against China with the World Trade Organization on Monday. The White House is challenging Chinese subsidies for auto parts.

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Mitt Romney's rally in Mansfield, Ohio, on Monday began the way every political event begins. "Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and our country's national anthem."

This is always an uncomfortable moment for me. While I sat at my laptop, most of the reporters around me stood and put their hands over their hearts. This time instead of just sitting and working, I tweeted what I was feeling:

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Wednesday marks the 16th anniversary of President Clinton's welfare overhaul. That law has become a major issue in this year's presidential campaign.

From the window of my room at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Pittsburgh, I can see a sliver of the hotel fitness center. This morning I looked down there and saw a guy with an earpiece. Secret Service.

So I wasn't entirely surprised to walk into the tiny exercise room a little after 7 a.m. and find the Republican vice presidential candidate working out. There was a row of about half a dozen elliptical machines and treadmills, one workout bench, a small rack of dumbbells, an inflatable exercise ball, and a folding workout mat.

Since Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., came on the scene Saturday, Mitt Romney's rallies have felt different. The crowds are bigger. The audience is more raucous. Lines that used to be a routine part of the Republican presidential candidate's stump speech have become rousing battle cries.

At the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C., 1,600 people crowded into the room and thousands more swarmed outside.

"I feel like I'm in Woodstock," gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory exclaimed. "There's a parking jam!"

This week, the presidential campaign has been dominated by debate over the welfare law from the 1990s. It's just the latest example of how both sides are trying to use the Clinton years to their advantage — portraying them as a halcyon golden age.

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