Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Presidential Election

October 17, 2012

Candidates fan out after combative debate

(Continued)

Fellow student Karim Aladmi, 21, was more forgiving. "It goes without saying that the knives were out," he said. "I thought Obama had a strong performance, but Romney made him work for it. I was actually impressed by both sides."

With just 20 days left until the election, polls show an extremely tight race nationally. While the Republican has made clear gains in recent days, the president leads in several polls of Wisconsin and Ohio. No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio.

As the debates unfold, early voting is already under way in many states, and the push to bank as many early ballots as possible is in overdrive.

Democrats cheered Tuesday when the Supreme Court cleared the way for Ohio voters to cast ballots on the three days before Election Day, rejecting a request by the state's Republican elections chief and attorney general to get involved in a rancorous battle over early voting. Obama's campaign and Ohio Democrats had sued state officials over changes in state law that took away the three days of voting for most people.

All the political maneuvering was little more than noise for more than 1.3 million Americans: They've already voted.

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Pickler reported from Washington. AP writers Nancy Benac and Alicia Caldwell in Washington, James Fitzgerald and Steve Peoples in Hempstead, N.Y., Beth Fouhy in New York City and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati, Ohio, contributed to this report.

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Presidential Election