Obama, Romney brace for foreign policy debate clash
* Obama assembles his team at Camp
David, the remote presidential retreat
* Romney huddles with top strategists
at a sunny beach-side resort in Florida
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are spending the weekend hammering out
their foreign policy battle lines ahead of their final debate, dropping
off the campaign trail and dispatching their running mates to court
voters in battleground states. The debate, which focuses on
international affairs, will be the final chance for each to lay out his
policy platforms and engage in verbal jousting in front of tens of
millions of TV viewers just 15 days before voters head to the polls.
With both sides conceding that the race to November 6 will go down to
the wire, and amid a consensus that each candidate won one of the
previous two debates, the stakes for Monday’s clash are enormous. And
just as they study up on the particulars of US policy about the Middle
East, China and Russia, the New York Times reported a possible
breakthrough on talks with Iran -- a report quickly squelched by the
Citing unnamed administration officials, the Times reported that
Iranian officials had agreed to direct US-Iran talks over Tehran's
nuclear program, after years of secret talks between the two sides.
The Iranians insisted that such negotiations wait until after the US
election, when they will know who the next president will be, the report
The White House swiftly denied any deal had been reached, saying it
was still working on a “diplomatic solution.” “It's not true that the
United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting
after the American elections,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy
Vietor said in a statement. The Times story broke just as the two US
candidates were hunkered down for debate prep.
Obama was gathering his team at Camp David, the remote presidential
retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, while Romney opted for a bit
of sun, heading to a beach-side resort in debate site Boca Raton,
Florida, where he is huddling with top strategists.
The challenger also took the opportunity to hit up wealthy donors one
last time. Romney attended his final fundraising event of the campaign
Saturday in Palm Beach, an aide said. Obama attended his final
fundraiser earlier this month.
With the candidates off the trail, it was up to their deputies to
Vice President Joe Biden was in Orlando, Florida, where he ducked
into a campaign field office to energize volunteers before heading to an
event in St. Augustine.
“We wanted to come to the epicenter of the epicenter,” Biden said,
mindful that the Orlando-Tampa corridor is the most vital region of the
largest swing state of all.
“You guys produce, we win Florida,” Biden said. “We win Florida, this
is all history, man.” The Republican ticket is placing a similar premium
on the Sunshine State.Romney and running mate Paul Ryan shared the stage
Friday at a rally in Daytona Beach.
Then Ryan went on a multi-state tour Saturday, from key battleground
Florida to Pennsylvania, a state that had been seen as a sure bet for
Obama but where Romney has made recent inroads, then Ohio and finally on
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and creator of a
controversial budget plan that envisions dramatic cuts to federal
spending, told a crowd in Pennsylvania's Moon Township that America
could no longer endure an outsized government. AFP