Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

The final phase: Candidates step up attacks after last debate

From CNN Political Unit
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Candidates hurl attacks, accusations in final push to Election Day
  • Polls tighten further with trend lines in several key states favoring Mitt Romney
  • Ads in battleground states focus on foreign policy, economy, jobs
  • Romney looks for support in Maine district that awards one electoral vote

(CNN) -- With the debates now history, the presidential campaign enters a frantic stretch run.

Polls tightened with trend lines in several key states favoring Republican Mitt Romney, and Monday's third and final debate serving as a springboard for a return to the campaign trail in Florida, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa.

President Barack Obama and Romney unveiled fresh attack lines on Tuesday, looking through a narrow prism and keying on themes and states each campaign believes will move the needle enough to push it over the finish line first on November 6.

Romney's campaign sought to widen what it sees as a potentially damaging opening on Obama's foreign policy record.

It released a barrage of television ads, using clips from the Florida debate to highlight what his campaign regards as his best moments and pushing the idea that Obama has made the United States less respected and weak overseas.

It all shows: debates do matter in 2012

Polls and pundits gave the nuts and bolts of the debate to Obama, who promoted his credentials as commander-in-chief and repeatedly raised Romney's inexperience.

But analysts noted Romney seemed to achieve a goal of appearing well informed and statesmanlike while discussing serious international topics, including Libya, Iran, Syria and U.S. relations with China.

At an event in Florida on Tuesday, Obama revived an attack line, saying Romney's shifting positions on the war in Afghanistan, Iraq and his commitment to taking down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden amounted to forgetfulness.

"Now we've come up with a name for this condition, it's called 'Romnesia,'" Obama said, using the slogan to cast Romney as slippery on important issues. "We had a severe outbreak last night ... it was Stage Three 'Romnesia.'"

Romney shot down the attack at a Nevada rally, saying Obama had been reduced to "word games of various kinds and then misfired attacks, one after the other."

"The truth is, attacks on me are not an agenda," Romney said, continuing a line he also used at the debate.

Both campaigns consider Virginia and Colorado tight, with Romney perhaps hanging on to a shred of a lead. New Hampshire is now a jump ball, and the Romney campaign is making a last-minute investment on expensive Boston-area television ads in an attempt to turn the state red.

A Republican source tracking media buys said Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Romney, has reserved television airtime in Maine.

The move suggests Romney allies see the 2nd Congressional District in the state's northern reaches as a potential benefit. Maine allocates electoral votes by district, and winning a single vote there could be significant in a tight race.

Obama's re-election chances increasingly hinge on the outcome in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio, where the federal bailout of U.S. automakers and suppliers mainly under Obama have resonated with voters in hard-hit manufacturing states.

Obama allies also sought to push another attack line with a new ad backed by the Priorities USA Action super PAC. In it, the group aimed to revive Romney's private equity past with voters. Democrats have portrayed him as a slick, out of touch business executive, who invested in projects that cut jobs or shipped them overseas while leading Boston's Bain Capital.

Romney said his company helped save businesses and create jobs.

Down to the wire: Campaign enters stretch run

Obama also released a 19-page pamphlet and an ad outlining plans he hopes to carry out if he wins a second term. The booklet is largely a rehash of policies previously proposed, but is a response to critics who have charged he has offered few specifics on how he would govern if reelected.

CNN's Tom Cohen, Ashley Killough, Gabriella Schwarz, Kevin Liptak, Gregory Wallace, Wayne Drash, Dana Davidsen, and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Get all the latest news at CNN's Election Center. There are race updates, a delegate counter and much more.
A black man is returning to the White House. Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.
The 2012 presidential election shattered spending records, further polarized a divided country and launched a thousand hashtags.
updated 1:41 PM EST, Thu November 8, 2012
Democratic and Republican congressional leaders continue to sharply disagree over the key issue of whether top tax rates should be raised to help resolve the looming crisis.
updated 2:24 PM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
In a historic turnaround, the ballot box is showing America's shifting attitudes about same-sex marriage.
Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
updated 4:19 AM EST, Thu November 8, 2012
The president faces a long and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to victory.
updated 9:27 AM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
Republicans kept a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives, a crucial victory after the party failed to wrest away the presidency from Barack Obama and the Senate from the Democrats.
updated 7:34 PM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
Democrats will retain their control of the Senate after winning several closely contested races on Tuesday.
ADVERTISEMENT