This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
The latest national polls show the presidential race tightening in some of the all-important battleground states, with Republican Mitt Romney gaining on President Barack Obama's lead. We've been talking with political reporters in these swing states and this morning, we focus on New Hampshire. President Obama won the state back in 2008 with 54 percent of the vote to John McCain's 45 percent. The state's four electoral votes could be crucial this year.
How does a president bring the war in Afghanistan to an end? There are 68,000 American troops serving in the country as the war enters its 12th year.
The war hasn't been a major issue in the presidential campaign, and polls show American voters are tiring of the war. But the next commander in chief will find the Afghan war among the most difficult of many foreign policy challenges.
Both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney appear to agree on a date: the last day of December 2014. That's when the Afghan security forces are scheduled to takeover.
Despite its liberal reputation, the home of Jack Kennedy and Tip O'Neill has never elected a woman as governor or senator. And in Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's tight re-election race with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, gender could prove the difference.
When Brown won his Senate seat in a special election in 2010, he came away unscathed by something his female opponent at the time would have had a much harder time explaining away. He posed nude for Cosmopolitan when he was 22 to help pay for law school.
What's it like to be a third-party candidate running for president? Ralph Nader can tell us.
"You're excluded from the debates," he says. "You spend an exhausting amount of time, until Labor Day, trying to get over the ballot access barriers. Your petitioners are harassed in the streets; you're subjected to baseless lawsuits by one party or another."
Nader has run for president three times – four if you count the time he ran unofficially. In 2000, he managed to win almost 3 percent of the national vote.
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney squared off in their first debate this week. Some pundits say the debates don't really matter in the final outcome of the election, and yet polls show Romney got a big bounce following his performance. Host Guy Raz talks to Jim Fallows, of The Atlantic, about what, if any, effect debates may have on undecided voters.
Major defense companies said this week they will not send out layoff notices to warn of big job cuts in January, taking away the prospect of embarrassing layoff notices right before the November elections.
That's led to charges that the White House overstepped when it told the industry the notices are not needed.
Nov. 6 is 32 days away, but for millions of Americans, there is no longer an Election Day.
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia now have early voting, which is under way even now in eight states. Hundreds of thousands of votes have already been cast, most before this week's presidential debates or Friday's jobs report, and all ahead of the three future debates and any unforeseen October event that might test the mettle of a candidate.
And Mitt Romney a little more than a day to savor his presidential debate win before the September unemployment figures forced him to recalibrate. High unemployment has been Mitt Romney's number one argument for why voters should replace President Obama. Now, the jobless rate is still high, but it is below the important psychological threshold of 8 percent. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on how the Republican presidential nominee reacted to the news.