Running mates set to clash in tightening US race

October 11, 2012 2:23 pm


Students from Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky, act as stand-ins for Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and VP Joe Biden in a rehearsal for the vice presidential debate/AFP
WASHINGTON, Oct 11 – The US vice presidential candidates clash in their sole debate on Thursday, with Democrats itching for revenge after Mitt Romney’s drubbing of President Barack Obama tightened the White House race.

After Obama’s lackluster performance last week, Vice President Joe Biden, 69, was expected to mount a full-throated attack against the surging Romney ticket while striving to avoid the gaffes the veteran politician is famous for.

He will face the much younger Representative Paul Ryan, 42, a fiscal policy wonk whose controversial government-slashing budget made him a hero among conservatives but who has never debated on a national stage.

The debate rarely elicits much excitement, but this year all eyes will be on Danville, Kentucky to see whether Biden can stem Romney’s sharp rise in the polls over recent days.

Obama tried to steady panicking supporters Wednesday, insisting he would win re-election despite a “bad night” in which he had been “too polite” to Romney.

“I got this,” Obama said in a radio interview, predicting that Democratic “hand wringing” over his limp performance would be a mere memory after his next clash with Romney on Tuesday.

Obama’s campaign team meanwhile launched a new assault on the resurgent Republican nominee less than four weeks before the election, accusing him of hiding “extreme” stances to win support in the vital political center ground.

Romney meanwhile scampered across Ohio, packing in three events Wednesday in the battleground state that has never been lost by a successful Republican candidate and is shaping up to be the epicenter of this year’s election.

The state has lost thousands of blue collar jobs abroad, so Romney was on fertile political ground as he warned China’s economy was gaining fast on America and accused Obama of “laxity” on enforcing free trade rules.

Obama’s campaign accused Romney of peddling “head-spinning falsehoods” and suggested the former venture capitalist had swelled his fortune by investing in Chinese firms guilty of pirating US intellectual copyright.

Democrats also tried to snare Romney in a culture war, after he told the Des Moines Register newspaper in Iowa that he would not introduce any legislation as president restricting the right to abortion.

Democrats scented a cover-up, as Romney has said he would appoint Supreme Court judges who oppose the procedure.

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