FISHERSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney is trying to ride a wave of momentum from a strong debate performance against President Barack Obama and reset the presidential campaign as the government releases new unemployment data providing the latest update on the nation's economy.
Obama, seeking to rebound from a subpar debate performance, is accusing Romney of being dishonest about how his policies would affect the tax bills of middle-class families and the Medicare benefits of retirees — a squabble that has even injected Big Bird into the race.
"I just want to make sure I've got this straight: He'll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he's going to crack down on 'Sesame Street'?" Obama said Thursday in Madison, Wis., referring to Romney's statement in the debate that he would cut a federal subsidy for PBS, which airs "Sesame Street." ''Thank goodness somebody's finally cracking down on Big Bird."
Nearly a month before Election Day, both campaigns were seeking to move on from the first presidential debate to gain any possible advantage in a tight election. Romney emerged from Wednesday's debate energized, while Obama said the televised encounter showed areas where his Republican rival was not being candid with voters.
And in an interview with Fox News Channel, Romney took on his disparaging comments about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes, saying the remarks that have dogged his campaign for the last week were wrong.
"Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right," Romney said Thursday. "In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."