Campaign 2012: Crunch time for Obama and Romney
With one debate under their belts, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney head into the final month of the presidential campaign. Expect an onslaught of ads, and a lively vice presidential debate this week.
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After polls recently suggested Obama had narrow leads in several swing states, the Romney campaign says the race is tightening following his strong performance in last week's debate. To help maintain his momentum, Romney has tweaked his message over the last week, highlighting his compassionate side and centrist political positions.Skip to next paragraph
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Beyond his speech, Romney has a Virginia rally scheduled for Monday evening, followed by events in Iowa and Ohio later in the week.
Obama displayed a little self-deprecation Sunday night to account for his own showing in last Wednesday's debate.
Taking to the Nokia Theatre stage after some musical stars performed, Obama said the entertainers seemed to have flawless nights all the time.
"I can't always say the same," he said. Everyone in the crowd of thousands seemed to get the joke.
Later in the Los Angeles evening, with actor George Clooney among those attending a $25,000-per-person fundraising dinner, Obama reminded donors that Wednesday's debate had fallen on his 20th wedding anniversary. "There was some speculation as to whether this had an impact on my performance," he said to laughter.
Obama also used that occasion to say he still had his focus on the people he is hired to help as president. Obama said he was reminded of the point by the waiter who spoke to him when he took his wife to dinner over the weekend. After serving the Obamas, the waiter thanked the president for a health care law he said saved his mother's life after she sustained a stroke.
Summarizing his case against Romney, Obama said, "Nothing that my opponent offers will create more jobs, reduce our deficit, grow our middle class, improve our education system, improve our environment or make us safer around the world."
He gave thanks for the help to the wealthy crowd but added: "We're not finished yet and I'm a big believer in closing the deal."
Both candidates were getting help for the final push from outside groups. A pro-Obama super political action committee released a TV ad Monday accusing Romney of seeking to slash education funding and college financial aid. The Priorities USA Action spot says Romney would have to make the cuts in order to keep tax breaks for families making more than $250,000 a year.
After the California cash rush, Obama was on to Ohio on Tuesday and was expected to campaign in Florida later in the week. He was then to hunker down over the weekend for another round of preparation for the second debate against Romney on Oct. 16 in New York.
Since the first debate, the Obama campaign has settled on a line of criticism that Romney is dishonest with voters; the Romney camp has returned fire.
Romney, campaigning in up-for-grabs Florida on Sunday, sought to build on the momentum from a debate performance that even Democrats conceded was "masterful." He told a crowd of about 12,000 that he had exposed Obama's shortcomings.
"And next January," he said, "we'll be watching him leave the White House for the last time."