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Romney takes aim at foreign policy, as eyes turn to VP debate

Republican nominee Mitt Romney is expected to deliver a speech outlining his foreign policy plan Monday. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama will be fundraising in California, and Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan prepare for the vice presidential debate on Thursday.

By Steven R. HurstAssociated Press / October 8, 2012

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally in Port St. Lucie, Florida October 7.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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Washington

Republican challenger Mitt Romney delivers a speech Monday he hopes will undo string of foreign policy stumbles, taking aim at an issue where polls show President Barack Obama holds a clear lead. The incumbent concludes a last swing through solidly Democratic California, scooping up more campaign cash from the rich and famous.

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With the race growing tighter after Obama's poor performance in last week's presidential debate — the first of three — Democrats and Republicans now are looking to Thursday's debate confrontation between Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

And all in all both tickets are bearing down on their attempts to draw in the small percentage of voters who remain undecided in fewer than 10 states, with Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and Florida all set for candidate visits this week.

The US president is not elected by the nationwide popular vote, but in a series of state-by-state contests.

In an election-year display of incumbent's power, Obama on Monday was declaring a national monument at the home of Latino labor leader Cesar Chavez, the United Farmworkers Union founder who died in 1993. That is designed as an open appeal to Hispanic voters in swing states, before the president moves from Los Angeles to San Francisco for more fundraising.

Romney intends his foreign policy speech as a vehicle to send tough signals on Iran and Syria and portray Obama as weak for his administration's changing explanation for the deadly attacks on the US consulate in Libya.

The Obama campaign was hitting back in advance.

"We're not going to be lectured by someone who has been an unmitigated disaster on foreign policy," Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Voters give Obama higher marks than Romney on questions of national security and crisis response, but world affairs in general are a distant priority compared with the struggling US economy, polling shows. Nevertheless, Romney will speak at Virginia Military Institute to broaden his explanation of how he would serve as commander in chief.

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