Oct 13, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(FRANCE24) Barack Obama headed to a Virginia hotel for debate camp Saturday on a mission to transform his re-election pitch after his tame first clash with Mitt Romney hammered his poll ratings.
Obama planned four days of cramming at the resort at the historic colonial city of Williamsburg, ahead of Tuesday’s crucial second debate against his Republican opponent with the November 6 election on a knife edge.
The president has seen Romney take the lead in national polls and eat deep into his prior advantage in battleground state surveys since the Republican’s clear victory in Denver 10 days ago, imperiling his hopes of a second term.
Obama’s aides have declined to say how the president will change his approach in the second debate, which takes place at Hofstra University, New York, but there have been signs of an evolving strategy.
Since the Denver showdown, Obama has unveiled a snappier stump speech, and criticized Romney for an “extreme makeover” of conservative positions and over a secretly filmed tape of him decrying half of Americans to rich donors.
Mystified Democrats sharply criticized Obama for not taking a similar tack during a lethargic and unfocused performance in the first debate.
Vice President Joe Biden prosecuted a more forensic attack on Romney when he met the Republican’s vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, in their debate on Thursday, a showing that cheered Democrats dismayed by Obama’s performance.
But Romney’s team senses growing momentum across the board, including what may turn out to be the crucial swing state of Ohio, which Democrats see as a firewall for Obama, and which has been decisive in numerous US elections.
“There’s a growing crescendo of enthusiasm,” Romney said in a raucous event in Ohio on Friday evening.
“People recognize this is not an ordinary campaign. This is a critical time for the country.
“There’s more energy and passion. People are getting behind this campaign. We’re taking back this country. We’re going to get it strong again.”
Romney was campaigning again in Ohio on Saturday, for the fourth time in five days, in a concentrated blitz of the state.
Obama on Saturday chose to highlight the auto industry bailout he championed, despite fierce political criticism, a highly political issue in Ohio, where one-in-eight workers are employed in the sector.
“Today, auto sales are the highest they’ve been in more than four years,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
“GM is back”, he continued. “Ford and Chrysler are growing again. Together, our auto industry has created nearly a quarter of a million new jobs right here in America.”
The Obama campaign has frequently touted a op-ed article by Romney which ran in the New York Times under the headline, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” to argue his instincts as a former venture capitalist are alien to the middle class.
The financial bailout of the industry dates back to January 2009, when all three major US auto companies — GM, Chrysler and Ford — stood on the verge of bankruptcy.
The Obama administration, which at the time had just taken over from the outgoing Republican government, used nearly $25 billion of the $700-billion bank bailout package to support GM and Chrysler. Ford did not take a bailout.
An average of polls conducted by the RealClearPolitics website Saturday gave Romney a 1.3 percent lead nationwide, and showed him winning in swing states Florida, North Carolina and Colorado — also targets for Obama.
Obama retains narrow leads in Ohio, Virginia and Iowa but polls in those states since the first presidential debate have shown clear movement towards the Republican.
Police in Denver meanwhile said a shot was fired Friday at an Obama campaign office shattering a window but injuring no one.
A photo posted online showed a window broken at the front of the office. Police said they were searching for a “possible vehicle of interest.”