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Obama campaign adjusts strategy after debate (+video)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a spring in his step Thursday following the presidential debate in Denver. President Barack Obama retains a slight lead in the polls as he awaits Friday's job numbers. 

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"For now we'll chalk this up as a wake-up call for the president, who still has a vastly superior campaign organization and owns the pivotal issue of Medicare," Greg Valliere, chief political analyst at Potomac Research Group, said in a note to clients.

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"But this is still a winnable election for Romney and that was the ultimate take-away last night," he said.

Obama faces another hurdle as soon as Friday morning, when the monthly jobs figures come out for September, a reminder of the tough economic plight faced by millions of Americans.

Economists polled by Reuters expect the unemployment rate to be anywhere between 8 and 8.3 percent, with non-farm payrolls adding 113,000 jobs, up from 96,000 in August.

European worries 

In Europe, where leaders and finance officials have worked closely with the Obama administration to resolve the euro debt crisis, there was consternation at Romney's singling out of deficit-ridden Spain as a poorly administered economy.

"Romney is making analogies that aren't based on reality," Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said after a meeting of his center-right party.

France's Le Monde was surprised by the sub-par performance of Obama, who wowed Europe with his 2008 election. "Where did the favorite go?" the newspaper asked on its front page.

Republicans who were worried that Romney's recent dip in polls might also drag down candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate at the election were relieved.

"Republicans everywhere have reason to be optimistic after last night's performance," said Senator Mike Lee, a favorite of Tea Party conservatives who have often been wary of Romney as too moderate.

Within hours of the debate, Republicans launched a string of ads hoping to capitalize on Romney's momentum. One had him presenting his plan for creating 12 million jobs. Another, aired in Wisconsin by the Super PAC, Restore Our Future, called on voters to demand better than Obama's "new normal" economy.

Romney's support of the coal industry during the debate sent coal company stocks up on Thursday. The Dow Jones coal index was 5.05 percent higher.

Shares of U.S. hospital operators fell as Romney's strong showing raised doubts about the future of Obama's 2010 healthcare reform.

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