Deadlock to polls in US election

CAROL MARTINDALE, carolmartindale@nationnews.com

Added 20 October 2012

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NORFOLK, Virginia – With one debate and one jobs report to go, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are hurtling towards election day in a virtual deadlock, each convinced that victory is within reach if his campaign sticks with its plan. In 16 days, voters will prove one of them wrong. Having steadied himself after a damaging first debate, Obama is banking on his renowned get-out-the-vote ground operation to steer millions of supporters to the polls. Many have already voted, under early balloting scenarios that favour campaigns with the most volunteers to flush out potential supporters.Republicans, meanwhile, feel Romney has finally broken through with his message that the economy can be much better, and that he’s the man to prove it. He pounded that theme in last week’s second debate, sounding almost like a romance counsellor in imploring Americans not "to settle" for a less robust economy than they deserve. Interviews with top strategists indicate that neither campaign feels it needs to make a significant shift in strategy in the closing days. Obama may hold a slight edge in battleground states, some Republicans grudgingly say, but Romney has the time, money and message to erase it. “Republicans are coalescing around a candidate who has bridged the credibility gap, and now the question is, can we make our closing arguments and win on the ground,” said veteran GOP strategist Terry Holt. “We’re not there yet. But that’s where we’re getting to.” Two scheduled events before November 6 could wrinkle the race’s fabric, although millions of Americans have already voted or firmly made up their minds. Obama and Romney meet tomorrow for their final debate, focused on foreign policy. It’s a topic that generally favours an incumbent president. But the forum comes as Obama faces growing heat over the administration’s handling of a deadly confrontation at a United States consulate in Libya. Romney stumbled last week when he tried to press that point. He will be under pressure to deliver a sharper, more precise indictment Monday.The economy remains the top issue, but to make his closing pitch to voters, Romney “needs to look strong and presidential in a national security setting”, said Steve Schmidt, who managed Republican John McCain’s 2008 campaign. And on November. 2 – less than 100 hours before Election Day – the government will release its monthly unemployment report, for October. It’s doubtful that anything short of a huge rise or fall in the rate would change many votes’ minds. But in a neck-and-neck election, almost any event might be viewed as crucial.dent seemed listless. (AP)

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