Obama, Romney Back on Campaign Trail After Hard-Hitting Debate

Posted October 17th, 2012 at 8:40 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are both heading back to the campaign trail Wednesday, hours after squaring off in an energetic and, at times, contentious debate.

The president travels to the midwestern states of Iowa and Ohio, hoping to use his strong performance in Tuesday's debate at New York's Hofstra University to regain momentum after his lackluster showing in the first debate earlier this month. Instant voter opinion polls by several news outlets, including CNN, showed Mr. Obama the winner over the former Massachusetts governor.

Mr. Romney, who campaigns in the southeastern state of Virginia, is in a virtual tie with the president, thanks to the Republican challenger's strong performance in the first debate.

During Tuesday's town-hall style meeting with undecided voters, Mr. Romney attacked the president's record over the last four years, saying Mr. Obama had “doubled” the deficit and had not accomplished what he said he would do.

The president fired back, saying he has kept most of his commitments. He said the commitments he has not been able to keep were not for “a lack of trying,” and promised he would fulfill them in a second term.

The two also battled over plans to pull the U.S. out of its economic slump in the next four years. Mr. Obama said Mr. Romney's plan to lower tax rates for everyone, keep tax cuts for the wealthy and increase defense spending would add to the deficit and hurt the economy.

However, Mr. Romney said his tax plan would lead to job growth and a balanced budget.

The two contenders also focused on the last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Mr. Romney accused the president of taking two weeks to tell the American people that the attack on the consulate that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans was an act of terrorism. He also said the president had continued to campaign rather than focus on the September 11 attack.

The president said he called the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism the day after it took place. He said the suggestion that anyone in his government would use the violence in Libya to play politics or mislead the American people is “offensive.”

The third and final presidential debate will be held next Monday in Florida, and will focus exclusively on foreign policy.