President's team promises more aggressive display


THE OBAMA campaign has promised a more “energetic” and “aggressive” performance in this week’s presidential debate as the two candidates hunkered down at the weekend for last-minute preparation.

President Barack Obama has seen his lead in opinion polls collapse since the first debate with Mitt Romney 10 days ago, when he was widely seen as having given a lacklustre and listless performance. Although the race remains tight, some national polls have since given Mr Romney a slight edge.

The next debate will be tomorrow at Hofstra University on Long Island, with the final debate – which will be on foreign policy – next Monday in Florida.

“Obviously, the president was disappointed in his own performance. He didn’t meet his expectations,” Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary and now an adviser to the Obama campaign, told CNN’s State of the Union programme yesterday.

“He knew when he walked off that stage and he also knew as he’s watched the tape of that debate that he’s got to be more energetic.

“I think you’ll see somebody who is very passionate about the choice that our country faces – and putting that choice in front of voters.”

David Axelrod, another Obama campaign aide, said that in the debate “he’s going to be aggressive in making the case for his view of where we should go as a country, a country that’s built around a growing, thriving middle class”.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mr Axelrod added that in the last debate “we saw Governor Romney sort of serially walk away from his own proposals – certainly the president is going to be willing to challenge him on it”.

Romney campaign officials denied that the candidate had substantially changed tack.

“He is running on the same platform he has run on through the Republican party primary. The country is a centre-right country. They want to have less federal spending. They want to get us on a path to a balanced budget,” Ed Gillespie, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, told CNN.

Speaking on Fox, Mr Gillespie added: “The race is very close. I think the wind is at Governor Romney’s back, and there’s clearly momentum. You can see it on the trail, you can see it in the data.”

After a week when the polls have largely moved against him, Mr Obama received some good news yesterday with a Public Policy Polling survey showing him five percentage points ahead in Ohio, the state that many analysts believe will be crucial in the election.

That was a slight increase on his lead in the same poll two weeks ago, and confirms other polls that have shown him performing well in Ohio.

According to the poll, about one in five respondents in Ohio said they had voted already under early voting provisions and of that group, Mr Obama was leading by 76-24. Among those still to vote, Mr Romney leads 45-41. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012)