Ari Shapiro

From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. In this installment of NPR's "Parallel Lives" series, a look at Romney's time at their shared alma mater.

When Mitt Romney attacks his Democratic opponent on the campaign trail, he often derides President Obama's Ivy League credentials.

Mitt Romney is disavowing a plan by some wealthy Republicans to attack President Obama for ties to his controversial former pastor. Even the people behind that proposal said they are abandoning it after their idea was plastered on the front page of The New York Times.

The proposal centered on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was a mentor to Obama before the two parted ways during the last presidential campaign.

Republicans unaffiliated with Romney were considering spending $10 million on a racially tinged advertising campaign tying Wright to the president.

In a hastily arranged radio interview, Mitt Romney apologized Thursday for pranks he played in high school that "might have gone too far."

The interview came a few hours after The Washington Post published a detailed story recounting incidents from Romney's years at Michigan's prestigious Cranbrook prep school in the 1960s.

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From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways: Both attended Harvard. Both have been heavily influenced by their respective churches. Each descended from polygamists.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on Monday, a day before Pennsylvania and four other states hold their primary contests.

Romney isn't concerned about the primary, but Pennsylvania will likely be an important swing state in the general election. And Monday also offered a chance to audition a potential running mate: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

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And I'm Melissa Block. Lorain County, Ohio, is getting a lot of political love this week. Yesterday, President Obama spoke at a community college there, and today, it was Mitt Romney's turn. He spoke at a shuttered gypsum factory. NPR's Ari Shapiro joins me now from Lorain County. And, Ari, why Lorain? What's so special about it?

At the end of the month, President Obama will deliver a string of punch lines at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's an annual tradition, a chance for the man at the top of the pyramid to poke fun at his political opponents and himself.

Humor is an essential tool in any politician's kit — all the more so in an age of instant, constant media. It can disarm an opponent, woo a skeptical voter or pierce an argument. This year, both Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney are using it to try to win the upper hand in the presidential race.

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Until recently, "Obamacare" was a word mostly used by opponents of President Obama's health care law. Now, supporters of the law are attempting to claim it as their own.

During the three days of health care hearings, protesters outside of the Supreme Court in favor of the law returned to one chant more than any other: "We love Obamacare."

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An Army staff sergeant's alleged massacre of Afghan civilians has brought new calls for the United States to leave Afghanistan even before the timetable set by President Obama, who has announced that the U.S. combat mission will be over by the end of 2014.

Some Republican presidential candidates are among those publicly asking if now is the time for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan.

But not Mitt Romney.

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There was a big movie premier Thursday — big in the political world, anyway. This movie is actually an ad of sorts, designed in hopes that it will go viral and help President Obama's re-election prospects.

Every good political campaign has a motif, from President Obama's "hope" to John McCain's "maverick."

Mitt Romney's brand is still taking shape, yet one word finds its way into nearly every speech he gives.

"I want to restore America to our founding principles," the former Massachusetts governor said in Iowa.

"We'll restore those principles to this great country," he told a crowd in New Hampshire.

"I don't want to transform America into something we are not, I want to restore America," he said in South Carolina.

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This weekend, Mitt Romney is doing something extraordinary; something he probably hasn't done in months. Nothing - nothing in public, at any rate. After weeks and weeks of nonstop campaigning, this is a rare weekend off.

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Mitt Romney is on the road again, this time in the deep South. He's campaigning today in Mississippi and Alabama, both states that hold primaries next Tuesday. NPR's Ari Shapiro was at a Romney rally at a port on the Gulf of Mexico.

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In a final burst of campaigning in Michigan on Tuesday, embattled GOP front-runner Mitt Romney complained that rival Rick Santorum was making automated phone calls to Democrats and urging them to vote against Romney in the Republican race. (Although only declared Republicans can vote in the party primary, voters can change their affiliation to cast a ballot.)

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Mitt Romney is on a bus tour across Michigan, hoping to win the votes of the state where he grew up. With primary day on Tuesday, Romney seems to have closed the gap in polls with Rick Santorum.

This trip has the feel of those early days campaigning back in New Hampshire, before any votes were actually cast: the long bus rides, the snowy landscape, even the impromptu restaurant drop-ins.

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