Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Presidential Election

October 15, 2012

Candidates consumed by debate preparation

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — With the White House race barreling toward the finish, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney were staying out of the spotlight Monday, underscoring the intense focus each campaign is placing on the second presidential debate.

Obama's campaign, seeking to rebound from a dismal first debate, promised a more energetic president would take the stage Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Romney's team aimed to build on a commanding opening debate that gave the Republican new life in a White House race that had once appeared to be slipping away from him.

When the two candidates step back into the public eye at the debate, there will be exactly three weeks left until Election Day. But early voting is already underway in dozens of states, including some battlegrounds, giving the candidates little time to recover from any slipups.

Much of the pressure in the coming debate will be on Obama, who aides acknowledge showed up at the first face-off with less practice — and far less energy — than they had wanted. The president and a team of advisers are seeking to regain focus with an intense, three-day "debate camp" at a golf resort in Williamsburg, Va.

"It is going great," Obama said of his preparations Sunday, while taking a brief break to greet volunteers at a nearby campaign office.

Romney, who has made no secret of the huge priority his campaign puts on the debates, was practicing Monday near his home in Massachusetts.

Romney's advisers suggested the Republican nominee would continue to moderate his message — in tone, if not substance — as he did in the Oct. 3 meeting to help broaden his appeal to the narrow slice of undecided voters. In recent days, Romney has promised his tax plan would not benefit the wealthy, emphasized his work with Democrats as Massachusetts governor and downplayed plans to curtail women's abortion rights.

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Presidential Election