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Politics & Society
Kettering, Ohio (Reuters)
President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday briefly put aside their fierce battle for the White House, as they avoided politics to focus on relief efforts after mammoth storm Sandy left millions of Americans struggling to recover.
With a week left in a deadlocked election race, Obama canceled campaign trips planned for Tuesday and Wednesday to stay in Washington and supervise storm recovery, while Romney held a storm relief event in the swing state of Ohio but ducked most political talk.
The campaign truce was likely to be short-lived.
Romney planned to hit the trail again for rallies in Florida on Wednesday, and Romney's running mate, U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, and Vice President Joe Biden also added new planned campaign stops as the race heads to a tense finish on Nov. 6.
Obama on Wednesday will visit New Jersey, which along with New York City bore the brunt of the storm, although he was expected to return to campaigning on Thursday for the final sprint to Election Day.
Both candidates have been forced to walk a delicate line, trying to avoid appearing insensitive or crassly political after Sandy inflicted heavy property damage, killed at least 30 people and left millions on the eastern seaboard without power.
Obama held a video conference at the White House on Tuesday with top members of his emergency team and spoke to governors and other officials in storm-damaged areas before visiting the national headquarters of the American Red Cross, where he warned that the risks were "not yet over."
The president's crisis leadership got an endorsement from a surprising source: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican and prominent Romney backer who said Obama should get credit for expediting federal aid to the state.
"Cooperation from the president has been outstanding," Christie told CBS "This Morning," adding he had spoken to Obama three times, including during a midnight call. "He deserves great credit."
In Ohio, Romney struck a politics-neutral tone before helping load a rental truck with crates of water and canned goods to be sent to a distribution center in New Jersey.
"We have heavy hearts this morning with all the suffering going on in a major part of our country," Romney told several hundred people, many of whom came with grocery bags of canned goods and other items that will be shipped to the East Coast.
But politics were not far from the surface at Romney's event. A campaign video on the former Massachusetts governor's biography and family life was played to the crowd.
Romney ignores FEMA questions
Romney ignored reporters' questions about comments he made during the Republican primary season in which he said he would shift funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is heading relief operations, to the states.
Millions were left without power as Sandy rolled through election battlegrounds like North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire. The storm's effects were felt as far away as the swing states of Ohio and Wisconsin.
National polls show Obama and Romney in a dead heat, although Obama retains a slight advantage in the key swing states that will determine who gathers the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
Obama leads Romney by 47 percent to 46 percent, according to a Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll, but 53 percent of all registered voters predicted Obama would win the election.
Most of the campaigns' attention has been focused on eight or nine states, but Romney and his allies have launched new advertising drives in three others - Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan - in a bid to expand the playing field.
The Romney campaign said the move was a sign of strength. "If the other side was on the move, they would be expanding into states that John McCain won in 2008; instead, they're fighting to maintain turf in traditionally Democratic states," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
Not surprisingly, the Obama campaign took a different view, calling the expansion into new states "a decision made out of weakness, not strength."
"There is no Romney momentum in the battleground states, and the Romney campaign has found itself with a tremendously narrow and improbable path to 270 electoral votes," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement.
"Now, like Republicans did in 2008, they are throwing money at states where they never built an organization and have been losing for two years," Messina said.
The Obama campaign responded with its own ads in the three states, and dispatched former President Bill Clinton to Minnesota. Clinton will also make appearances on Tuesday in the swing state of Colorado.
Both campaigns continued pouring advertisements into the presidential battlegrounds, and focused on voter turnout efforts and getting supporters to the polls.
In Ohio, where one of every eight jobs is tied to the auto industry, Obama got some support in an ongoing spat with the Romney campaign about Romney's claim that Chrysler planned to move Jeep vehicle production out of the United States to China.
The chief executive of Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, on Tuesday refuted Romney's statement, which has become a subject of dueling television ads between the Romney and Obama campaigns in Ohio.
Romney has tried to undercut Obama's decision to give the auto industry a federal bailout, a popular move in Ohio that has helped fuel the president's slight but steady advantage over Romney in the Midwestern state.
"I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China," he told employees by email.
By Steve Holland, Reuters, October 30, 2012
President Barack Obama retained a slim lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll on Monday, as he appeared to have stemmed the bleeding from his poor first debate.
Three weeks before the November 6 U.S. election, Obama leads Romney by 2 percentage points, with 47 percent support from likely voters in the national online poll, to 45 percent support for Romney.
The margin was small enough to be a virtual tie, but Obama's slight edge broadened from Sunday, when he went ahead of Romney by 1 point after falling behind in the wake of Romney's decisive victory in their first presidential debate on October 3.
"Romney received a bump from that first debate, but the very nature of a bump is it recedes again," Ipsos vice president Julia Clark said. "We're now seeing Obama regaining a little bit of a foothold as we go into the second debate. They go into the debate on equal footing."
The two men meet again on Tuesday night at New York's Hofstra University in a debate that Obama needs to win to grab back the campaign momentum. The third debate is set for October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida.
Obama's support in the new Reuters/Ipsos survey was particularly strong among the 10 percent of registered voters who have already cast their ballots. Fifty-five percent said they voted for the Democrat, compared to 43 percent for his Republican challenger.
Romney and his fellow Republicans have been hitting Obama hard over his handling of diplomatic security, blaming his administration for attacks in Egypt and Libya on September 11. The U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in Libya.
But the poll did not find a groundswell of condemnation for the White House. Forty-five percent of registered voters approved of Obama's handling of the situation in Libya and Egypt and 40 percent disapproved. Thirty-eight percent backed Romney on the issue, compared with 36 percent who did not.
The incumbent also regained ground in several policy areas since the first week after his bad debate.
Forty-two percent of registered voters said they thought Obama had a better plan for healthcare, compared with 35 percent who said the same of Romney. Obama's rating was up 4 points from October 10.
Obama's ratings on taxes also went up by four points, as did voters' view of his plans for Social Security and Medicare by 3 points each.
Romney's scores each went up by 3 points on how he would handle the war on terrorism and gay marriage, although Obama was still ahead on both.
Thirty-seven percent of registered voters picked Obama as having better policies for dealing with terrorism, compared with 32 percent for Romney. And 43 percent favored Obama on gay marriage, compared with Romney's 25 percent.
Romney kept a big lead of 38 percent to 29 percent on who has a better plan for handling the deficit, and a small lead of 38-37 percent on who would better handle the U.S. economy. Obama was just ahead, at 39 percent to 38 percent, on jobs and employment.
The precision of Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points for registered voters and 2.6 for likely voters.
By Patricia Zengerle, Reuters, October 15, 2012
(Editing By Alistair Bell and Cynthia Osterman)
On the day after Denver, headlines across the country went about like this:
“Round 1: Romney” – Denver Post
“Mitt Mauls O” – New York Post
“Why Obama Lost” – New York Daily News
And, in my non-scientific, channel flipping poll, those headlines reflected the thoughts of most political observers. The contender won. The incumbent clearly did not.
Here’s the thing I continue to find most interesting though; the massive spin that endures, days later at the post-debate epicenter, cable news, where the explanatory after shocks go on and on and on.
Understandably, Democrats weren’t happy with the President’s performance, prompting left leaners like the MSNBC host Ed Schultz to declare Governor Romney a liar. Schultz said the word liar so many times I lost count. Others blamed moderator Jim Lehrer for the President’s performance, claiming Lehrer lost control of the debate. Wasn’t that the idea behind Lehrer’s format to allow the candidates talk to each other?
Republicans did verbal victory dances. Among the more outspoken, former Governor and Romney surrogate John Sununu who called the President “lazy” and claimed the debate revealed the President’s “incompetence.” Fox News host Sean Hannity called Mr. Obama “stammering.” Ann Coulter claimed that after the debate “anniversary or not, Michelle wanted to go home with Mitt.”
At this very moment the yammering continues about what happened. I keep looking for why it happened. Did the President have a stomachache or a headache or just learn of a national security threat? Was he really off his game or does Romney just have better game?
I tell my clients that the way they listen sends a strong message, that non-verbal cues can have a bigger impact than words, especially on TV. Since the first nationally televised presidential debate in 1960 between Kennedy and Nixon, voters have been judging candidates not only on substance, but also on delivery and appearance. Flop sweat under broiling studio lights cost Nixon the election.
I haven’t heard anyone blame studio lights for the President’s Wednesday night demeanor but it was distracting to see Obama spend so much time looking down while Romney spoke. It was awkward when the President directed his comments to Jim Lehrer, instead speaking directly to Governor Romney. Mr. Obama had difficulty breaking down complicated topics. And he clearly did not show the same energy and passion he exhibited during speeches on the campaign trail a day later.
In contrast, Governor Romney seemed ready. Right out of the box he was respectful, addressing Obama as “Mr. President.” He was aggressive, plain- spoken, matter of fact. He sounded reasonable. He appeared open and comfortable. He spoke directly to the President and looked him in the eye.
Spin away folks but while you’re at it, can anyone calmly explain what happened?
Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan asked as much Sunday on ABC’s This Week, wondering, “Was it a strategic mistake on the part of the Obama campaign to play it a certain way and it didn’t work or were there other factors involved? To me it’s a mystery and one of those delicious things that will probably be answered in the big books about 2012… but, yes, the president was bad and Romney was good.”
By John Seigenthaler, Reuters, October 7, 2012
Voters will have their chance to size up President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney side-by-side, when both men take the stage at the University of Denver Wednesday night for their first of three debates.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is preparing to face off against President Obama at tonight's debate in Denver, Colo. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.
And with Election Day just a month away, expectations and anticipation for tonight’s showdown are mile high.
Romney, the Republican presidential hopeful, trails Obama in most polls, both nationally and in key battleground states. Tonight’s debate offers the challenger an opportunity to change the dynamics of the race and Romney is expected to take an aggressive posture in hopes of doing just that.
Both candidates have spent a lot of time in the critical swing state fighting for those nine electoral votes but recent polling has President Barack Obama in the lead. Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., discusses.
For his part, Obama will have to guard against his Republican opponent’s attacks – particularly on the anemic economy and the administration’s response to a terrorist attack against a U.S. embassy last month in Libya – all while trying to illustrate the “contrast” between himself and Romney.
"Gov. Romney, to me, seemingly shifts his shape. I don't really know what Gov. Romney stands for – you look at his Massachusetts record, you look at what he promoted when he was running for the U.S. Senate – and now you compare that with his various proposals since he's been running for office," said Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat. "So I think this debate tonight will continue the dynamic of the campaign that's focused on contrasts and differences."
The stakes on Wednesday evening are especially high for Romney, who’s trailed Obama in most polls since each party’s national conventions concluded at the beginning of September. A series of missteps by the former Massachusetts governor – involving his quick response to the Libya incident and the revelation of secretly recorded remarks seeming to write off 47 percent of voters, whom he called “dependent” upon government – have put the private equity titan in the unenviable position of having to make up ground versus Obama.
October’s three debates might be Romney’s last, best hope to accomplish that goal. Political observers typically look toward three moments in an election for a candidate to change the state of the campaign. The first two – choosing a running mate and the national convention – have come and gone.
In the final push in the 2012 presidential election, candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama make their last appeals to voters.
That leaves the debates – tonight in Denver, Oct. 11 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla. – for Romney to make his argument.
The Republican nominee will look to deliver the kind of aggressive attacks on Obama for which his conservative supporters have clamored.
Several Romney voters at events here in Colorado preceding Wednesday’s showdown said they feared he currently trailed Obama. All of them said they wanted to see the GOP nominee come out swinging versus the president.
“I don’t think he has been tough enough,” said Caroline Peale, who attended Ann Romney’s event on Tuesday afternoon in Littleton. “He has so much ammunition. He doesn’t use it!”
Peggy Fulster, a self-described independent voter who decided for Romney in recent months, said: “I believe he's behind, but I think he can make up ground. I think a lot of people are sitting on the sidelines to see what happens in the debates.”
The risk for Romney could involve seeming too aggressive; he must straddle a delicate dividing line between criticizing the president and seeming petulant in a way that could turn off many swing voters.
Obama is sure to play defense at moments of the debate, which will be moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS. But the debate format is largely open-ended in a way that could maximize interactions between the candidates. As a result of a coin toss, Obama will deliver the first opening statement and Romney will give the final remarks of the evening.
The president’s campaign has sought to play down expectations for Obama, emphasizing that the president hasn’t debated since the 2008 general election. Obama spent much of the past weekend and the first half of this week practicing for tonight’s matchup, huddling in Henderson, Nev., with senior staff and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee who is playing the role of Romney in mock debates.
Obama, speaking a few days ago in Las Vegas, framed the debate as an opportunity to engage with Romney on issues of substance, playing down expectations and dismissing the notion of debate winners and losers.
“Gov. Romney, he's a good debater. I'm just OK,” the president said. “But what I'm most concerned about is having a serious discussion about what we need to do to keep the country growing and restore security for hardworking Americans. That's what people are going to be listening for. That's the debate that you deserve.”
Much of Obama’s campaign has focused on illustrating the differences between the two men, rather than embracing the model of an election that is effectively an up-or-down referendum on the president’s first term.
This evening, Obama is likely to continue in that vein, and has ample ammunition of his own to go after Romney. The Democrat’s campaign has turned Romney’s “47 percent” video into the subject of attack lines, and the president invokes Romney’s own low effective tax rate as evidence for why taxes should be reformed such that the wealthy pay a higher share of taxes.
One difficulty for both candidates involves letting the other's attacks get to them.
"I could see both men bristling a little bit at a comment the other one might make," said Udall. "There are times where you feel no good deed goes unpunished, and you want to at least push back – if not punch back – and set the record straight. I think there's a way to modulate it ... You respond with a punch, but it's got to be a clean, above board punch that's appropriate for that setting."
Like Obama, Romney has spent a considerable amount of time preparing for these attacks and downplaying expectations. Romney’s team has pointed out that, despite the numerous primary debates earlier this cycle, the Republican presidential nominee hasn’t faced a Democratic opponent in about a decade, when he first ran for governor of Massachusetts.
“There’s going to be all the scoring of winning and losing, and you know, in my view, it’s not so much winning and losing or even the people themselves,” Romney said at a rally Monday evening in the Denver area.
Romney added: “I look forward to these debates. I’m delighted that we’re going to have three debates. It’ll be a conversation with the American people that will span almost an entire month.”
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a veteran of debate preparations for past Republican nominees, has taken the lead on playing Obama in practice sessions versus Romney. Portman traveled with Romney to Denver, and the two of them mostly worked privately on Tuesday in anticipation of tonight’s debate.
Would-be first lady Ann Romney pronounced her husband “excited” and “focused” in a rally Tuesday afternoon.
But whether there are that many undecided voters remaining on the sideline is another question. The challenge – for both candidates – could end up involving the number of voters who appear to have already determined their vote, making it more difficult than usual for either Romney or Obama to sway voters with a strong debate performance.
Tuesday’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that most voters, 60 percent, called the debate either "just somewhat important" or "not at all important."
By Michael O'Brien, NBC News, October 3, 2012
When it comes to Who’s No. 1 in Woody Johnson’s life, the Jet owner has a simple answer: M-I-T-T, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt.
One day after his Jets suffered an embarrassing 34-0 loss at home to San Francisco he deemed “unacceptable”, Johnson was asked on Bloomberg TV Monday if he would rather have a winning Jets’ season or a victorious presidential election for Mitt Romney.
Hope you are sitting down Jet fans.
"Well I think you always have to put country first," Johnson said. "So I think it's very, very important that for - not only us - but in particular for our kids and grandkids that this election come off with Mitt Romney and (Paul) Ryan as president and vice president."
While Johnson’s words could leave Jet fans with faces redder than any Red state, the way things are looking right now,Johnson may not get either wish.
The Jets are 2-2, but have lost cornerback Darrelle Revis for the season and Monday Rex Ryan announced injured wideout Santonio Holmes would miss at least a few weeks with a foot injury.
Add to that Mark Sanchez’s dismal QB play and the ever-growing call for Tim Tebow to step in and you have a Jet recipe for disaster.
Romney, meanwhile, is struggling worse than Sanchez. Some polls have him 5% behind President Obama heading into Wednesday’s first debate between the two candidates.
Still, when it comes to picking one or the other, Johnson, who has owned the Jets since 2000, clearly pulls for Paul Ryan over Rex Ryan.
The Jet owner is the chairman of Romney's campaign in New York and is the middle of an aggressive fundraising schedule for the Romney-Ryan campaign. Following the loss Sunday, Johnson attended a dinner that evening and two breakfasts on Monday.
After pumping up Romney for about eight minutes in the interview, Johnson was asked about the Jets.
“The coach and the coaches and I are not happy with what happened yesterday,” he said. “And the players aren't either. That performance is absolutely unacceptable."
After being asked about Tebow's prospects as a starting quarterback, the owner deferred to Ryan's decision to keep Sanchez in the starting job.
"No, it doesn't mean Tim Tebow's starting next week," Johnson said. "But it's a question that's going to be asked more frequently if this progresses."
This comes after Johnson said at the Republican National Convention that you can "never have too much Tebow," a comment he later said was intended as a joke.
"There's going to be more pressure. This quarterback can get the job done. He had a bad day and the team had a bad day," the owner added. (But) it wasn't all Mark Sanchez."
By Seth Walder, New York Daily News, October 2, 2012
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has weighed in on the U.S. presidential race, saying he prefers President Barack Obama.
‘‘If I were American, I'd vote for Obama,’’ Chavez said in a televised interview that aired Sunday.
The Venezuelan leader called Obama ‘‘a good guy’’ and said if the U.S. president were a Venezuelan, ‘‘I think ... he'd vote for Chavez.’’
Chavez is running for re-election, seeking another six years in office in an Oct. 7 vote. Obama faces Republican Mitt Romney in his November re-election bid.
Venezuela has had tense relations with the U.S. government for years, even though the United States remains the top buyer of oil from the country.
‘‘I wish we could begin a new period of normal relations with the government of the United States,’’ Chavez said in the interview on the Venezuelan television channel Televen.
Chavez and Obama shook hands at a 2009 summit, but relations have since cooled.
The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since July 2010, with Chavez rejecting Washington’s nominee for ambassador, Larry Palmer, and accusing him of making disrespectful remarks about Venezuela’s government. That led Washington to revoke the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S.
AP, September 30, 2012
Americans marked the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks Tuesday in familiar but subdued ceremonies that put grieving families ahead of politicians and suggested it's time to move on after a decade of remembrance.
As in past years, thousands gathered at the World Trade Center site in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., to read the names of nearly 3,000 victims killed in the worst terror attack in U.S. history.
But many felt that last year's 10th anniversary was an emotional turning point for public mourning of the attacks. For the first time, elected officials weren't speaking at the ceremony, which often allowed them a solemn turn in the spotlight, but raised questions about the public and private Sept. 11. Fewer families attended the ceremonies this year, and some cities canceled their remembrances altogether.
"I feel much more relaxed" this year, said Jane Pollicino, who came to ground zero Tuesday morning to mourn her husband, who was killed at the trade center. "After the ninth anniversary, that next day, you started building up to the 10th year. This feels a lot different, in that regard. It's another anniversary that we can commemorate in a calmer way, without that 10-year pressure."
Meanwhile, Marisol Torres clutched a photo of
her cousin, New York firefighter Manuel DelValle Jr., as she walked into the
memorial plaza in lower Manhattan for the somber ceremony. Torres told CBS New
York station WCBS-TV the ceremony is as tough as it was after the first year.
"I wish I could say it gets easier, but it doesn't," said Torres. "I think you learn to live with your grief so in some sense it gets easier but you sort of learn to carry that around with you."
DelValle was 32 years old when he was killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center.
As bagpipes played at the year-old Sept. 11 memorial in New York, family clutching balloons, flowers and photos of their loved ones bowed their heads in silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment that the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the trade center's north tower. Bells tolled to mark the moments that planes crashed into the second tower, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, and the moments that each tower collapsed.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observed the moment in a ceremony on the White House's south lawn, and then laid a white floral wreath at the Pentagon, above a concrete slab that said "Sept. 11, 2001 — 937 am." He later recalled the horror of the attacks, declaring, "Our country is safer and our people are resilient."
Victims' families in New York tearfully read the names of the attack victims, often looking up to the sky to talk to their lost loved ones."Rick, can you hear your name as the roll is called again? On this sacred ground where your dust settled?" said Richard Blood, whose son, Richard Middleton Blood, Jr., died in the trade center's south tower. "If only those who hear your name could know what a loving son and beautiful person you grew to be. I love you, son, and miss you terribly."
Thousands had attended the ceremony in New York in previous years, including last year's milestone 10th anniversary. A crowd of fewer than 200 swelled to about 1,000 by late Tuesday morning, as family members laid roses and made paper rubbings of their loved ones' names etched onto the Sept. 11 memorial. A few hundred attended ceremonies at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
Commuters rushed out of the subway and fewer police barricades were in place than in past years in the lower Manhattan neighborhood surrounding ground zero. More than 4 million people in the past year have visited the memorial, which became more of a public space than a closed-off construction site.
Families had a mixed reaction to the changing ceremony, which kept politicians away from the microphone in New York for the first time. Charles G. Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, was killed at the trade center, said: "We've gone past that deep, collective public grief." But Pollicino said it's important that politicians still attend the ceremony.
"There's something missing if they're not here at all," she said. "Now, all of a sudden, it's `for the families.' This happened to our country — it didn't happen only to me."
And Joe Torres, who put in 16-hour days in ground zero's "pit" cleaning up tons of debris in the days after the attacks said another year has changed nothing for him.
"The 11th year, for me, it's the same as if it happened yesterday," said Torres, whose sister-in-law was killed in the attacks. "It could be 50 years from now, and to me, it'll be just as important as year one, or year five or year ten."
By CBS and AP, September 9, 2012
1st Photo: Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
President Barack Obama remained ahead of Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney in a Reuters/Ipsos released on Sunday, maintaining a boost in popularity that followed the Democratic National Convention.
Of the 1,419 likely voters polled online over the previous four days, 47 percent said they would vote for Obama and 43 percent for Romney if the November 6 U.S. election were held today.
The president's margin over Romney in the daily rolling poll was unchanged from Saturday's numbers, turning up the heat on Republican strategists who were hoping for a more muted post-convention "bounce" for Obama in the wake of Friday's release of weak employment numbers.
"It means (Democrats) are on good footing going into the rest of the election," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said.
Obama's lead already was more sustained than a smaller and shorter-lived boost that Romney enjoyed after the Republican convention finished in Tampa, Florida on August 30, Clark said. The Democratic convention ran through Thursday night in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"The task is now to stay on the message as we're still quite a ways away from the election," Clark said, reiterating her prediction that the gap in poll numbers between Obama and Romney is likely to narrow and stay close up to November 6.
Senior advisers to Romney rejected the idea that they would panic after several polls showed the former Massachusetts governor losing in key swing states, saying such results reflected the recent Democratic convention and not the ongoing tight race.
"An incumbent president who is below 50 percent in the polls is in a very bad place," one senior Romney adviser said.
Another adviser said, "if we're at 47-45 (with Obama leading) going into the Thursday before the election, I'd be very comfortable we'd win."
Direction of jobs, economy
What Romney advisers are banking on is Americans' feelings about Obama's handling of the U.S. economy.
"Mitt has improved his standing in battleground states and is positioned perfectly on the issue of the economy with swing voters, who are so down on President Obama's performance in office," the first senior adviser to Romney said.
Sunday's Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Romney leading in popularity among registered independent voters, with 35 percent of them saying they would vote for him. Obama had 31 percent.
But asked which of the two "will protect American jobs," 32 percent of independent registered voters picked Obama, while 27 percent sided with Romney, according to Sunday's results.
Among all the 1,660 registered voters surveyed, Obama scored 42 percent compared to Romney's 35 percent.
Obama's ranking in that category has climbed steadily over the past two weeks of the daily poll, starting with 34 percent on August 28, reaching 40 percent on September 7 and peaking Sunday.
"The public view of the economy is much more about personal perception than reality," Clark said, explaining that few people pay close attention to numbers or statistics. "The fact that the dialogue is in the public sphere and Obama has been defending his record, it's possible a little bit of that is sticking."
At the same time, 72 percent of registered voters surveyed said the national economy and national deficit were on the wrong track, while 66 percent said the same about jobs and unemployment and 57 percent about the direction of things in the country in general, according to Sunday's poll numbers.
Asked how they felt about Obama, 54 percent of registered voters were favorable. Romney's favorability trailed at 49 percent.
Sunday's findings wrap up a series of daily rolling polls aimed at gauging sentiment during the two weeks of party conventions. For the survey, a sample of registered voters was interviewed online from September 5-9.
The precision of Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points for all respondents.
By Alina Selyukh, Reuters, September 9, 2012
(Additional reporting by Sam Youngman in Boston; Editing by Alistair Bell)
London, Great Britain
U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to pick up the pieces on Friday after one British tabloid declared him an Olympics "party pooper" and even some of his supporters gave him the thumbs down for criticising his host country.
"Sometimes I think some Americans should not leave the country," Carl Lewis, a retired U.S. sprinter and long jumper who won 10 Olympic medals, told The Independent newspaper.
After a gaffe-filled day in which Romney came under criticism in Britain and in the United States for questioning whether London was ready for the Summer Games, the likely Republican party presidential nominee kept a low-key schedule that included a meeting with Ireland's prime minister Enda Kenny and a visit to Friday night's opening Olympics ceremony.
The former Massachusetts governor was overheard joking to Kenny that his state, home to many Irish Catholics, "is almost a part of Ireland".
Romney, who led the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, otherwise seemed focused on merely basking in the glow of the opening ceremony, but back home some fellow conservatives joined Democrats in debating the impact of his flubs, which included a not-so-discreet mention of having met with "the head of MI6," Britain's secretive intelligence agency.
Commentator Charles Krauthammer of Fox News called Romney's performance in London "unbelievable," and "beyond human understanding".
"All Romney has to do is say nothing," Krauthammer said.
"It's like a guy in a 100-meter dash. All he has to do is to finish; he doesn't have to win. And instead, he tackles the guy in the lane next to him and ends up disqualified. I don't get it."
A Republican official who supports Romney declared that "the front end of the trip is wiped out".
"What he can do is go to Israel and go to Poland and recover," the strategist said.
A 'threshold' test
Trying to gain control of a trip designed to show that he is comfortable on the international stage, Romney appeared on NBC's "Today" show on Friday.
He tried to make amends by saying that the Summer Olympics in London will be impressive, and that "after being here a couple of days, it looks to me like London is ready".
Many Republican officials back in the United States said they have not liked what they've seen from Romney during his trip, which also will include a stop in Poland.
However, most said they did not believe it would change the dynamic of Romney's tight race against Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.
The presidential race is focused mostly on the sluggish U.S. economy, and Obama got bad news on Friday that gross domestic product growth slowed to 1.5 percent in the second quarter, a troubling indicator that the Romney campaign pounced on.
David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said Americans expect their political leaders to perform well on the global stage and the trouble on the London portion of Romney's trip was not a good start.
"I think it's one of those threshold tests," Yepsen said. Americans "expect (presidential candidates) to be good and competent political leaders. I don't think they get any prize for doing that. I think they're expected to do that. When they make mistakes, when they look bad, that could hurt them."
Romney's campaign signalled its desire to move beyond the missteps in London by arranging a conference call with senior Romney aides about the plans for his visit to Israel. He arrives on Saturday afternoon and has talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials on Sunday.
Romney, who has declared Obama's handling of the key relationship with Israel a failure, will deliver a speech in which he will underscore "that the challenges and the threats to Israel are challenges and threats to America, and the opportunities awaiting Israel are the opportunities awaiting America," according to senior aide Dan Senor.
"Romney must now focus his attention on Israel and Poland to show that can accomplish international diplomacy without turbulence," Republican consultant Ron Bonjean said.
By Steve Holland, Reuters, July 28, 2012
(Editing by David Lindsey and Michael Roddy)
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