Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Romney and Obama enter last lap

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney walk past each other at the end of the final debate at Lynn University in Florida (AP)
Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama meet at the end of the last debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida (AP)
Mitt Romney and his wife Ann react towards the audience after the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida (AP)

President Barack Obama has followed up on the last presidential debate by accusing his Republican challenger Mitt Romney of shifting his positions, as the two candidates entered the two-week home stretch before Election Day.

The two are neck-and-neck in the race for the White House, and Mr Romney presented a more centrist approach to foreign policy during Monday night's debate - the last of three, and this one on foreign policy.

The Republican's performance, however, gave the Obama campaign more ammunition to allege that Mr Romney is willing to shift from or lose his more conservative positions to satisfy his more mainstream constituents.

"We are accustomed to seeing politicians change their position from four years ago," Mr Obama told a Florida rally. "We are not accustomed to seeing politicians change their positions from four days ago."

Mr Obama's campaign released a 20-page booklet called the Blueprint for America's Future to promote a second-term agenda, responding to Republican criticism that the president has not clearly articulated a plan for the next four years.

Neither side can claim the lead at this late stage of the race, with polls showing the race virtually tied nationally and in some of the key swing states. Mr Obama's challenge is to convince voters who may be hurting financially that he is better qualified to lead the country back to economic prosperity than Mr Romney, who made a fortune as a successful businessman.

Mr Obama was campaigning in Florida, one of nine battleground states that do not reliably vote for one party or the other, and that therefore will decide the election. He was joining Vice President Joe Biden in another such state, Ohio, later.

The US president is not chosen according to the popular nationwide vote but in state-by-state contests. The system makes it possible for a candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election, as happened to former Vice President Al Gore 2000.

Mr Romney and running mate Paul Ryan's schedule reflected the strategy of driving up Republican vote totals in areas such as the Denver suburbs and Cincinnati, Ohio. They start their two-week dash in Nevada, before moving to the Denver area for a rally with rocker-rapper Kid Rock and country music's Rodney Atkins.

During Monday night's debate, Mr Romney largely expressed agreement with how Mr Obama has conducted US foreign policy. His stance reflected his determination not to cause further unease among war-weary Americans who are overwhelmingly in favour of ending the Afghan war.

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