NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The far-flung swing states that have the most sway in the presidential election have something else in common -- a large share of military veterans who are getting special attention from the fiercely dueling campaigns.
In a White House campaign this hard-fought, no interest group can be ignored. But veterans are an especially prized group since so many live in battlegrounds including Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia.
Backing those who have served the country also sends a feel-good patriotic message to the electorate at large. And although veterans traditionally lean Republican, both candidates see an opening to win over veterans this year.
The next president will face U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and a continuing budget crisis with veterans benefits under scrutiny.