NORFOLK -- With just one presidential candidate on each side, there are dozens of staffers and volunteers anchored in the fight to control the message. Hundreds of calls, emails, and social media postings are aimed at shaping what voters hear, see and believe.
Veteran 13News reporter Mike Gooding covers politics. In August, he got a call from the White House to do an interview with the president.
"Country of 338 million Americans. I'm just one guy. How do they know of the existence of me? That says something of the homework that they've done, of course," he says.
It's no accident that since President Barack Obama took office, he's done not one, not two but three one-on-one interviews with 13News.
Since August, the Romney-Ryan ticket has offered seven interviews to 13News, including one just days after the Republican presidential nominee chose Norfolk to announce Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
The candidates are careful to tap hot button issues that are battleground state specific. For Virginia, that includes looming defense cuts that could cause tens of thousands of jobs to be lost.
Gooding says both parties are paying close attention to what one side says and they're always ready with an instantaneous response. He recalls that shortly after doing a story about the president in September, he got a call offering an interview with candidate Mitt Romney.
The portion of the interview that didn't make it on-air but appeared on WVEC.com caught the Obama campaign's attention.
"They called and they emailed, complained to high heaven that we needed to put their statement on to rebut what Romney had said and I replied, 'ell that was never on TV, so I can't have you rebut something that our viewers never heard in the first place.' They said, '...but it's on the website!' I said OK, then we'll put your rebuttal on the text side of website," he said.
Both sides say rapid response is critical to the campaigns. Romney spokesperson Ryan Williams says they send people to Obama rallies to listen to anything that needs a rebuttal. Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter says they have a "truth team" working to keep the Romney campaign honest.