Clintons go on the offensive for Obama

 

Hours before last night's second presidential debate began in Hempstead, New York, the Clinton family attempted to shore up Barack Obama's position, with Hillary taking the fall for events in Libya that led to the death of the US ambassador, and Bill releasing a video attacking Mitt Romney's tax plan.

The Clinton assistance came as a Quinnipiac University poll sounded new alarm bells for President Obama, with his once-wide lead in Pennsylvania slipping to just four points, potentially putting what was meant to be a safe Obama state in play. Meanwhile the 1992 presidential contender Ross Perot endorsed Mr Romney as a "living legend".

The Romney camp had its own distraction – a claim by the head of a food kitchen charity in Ohio that running-mate Paul Ryan showed up uninvited at the weekend to pose for the cameras washing dishes. "He did nothing," complained Brian Antal, the head of the charity.

Trying to take the heat off Mr Obama, Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, said in interviews while on a visit to Peru that any mistakes made in protecting the US consulate in Benghazi before the 11 September tragedy had been hers. "I take responsibility," she said. "I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha."

At a hearing last week, security experts said Washington had ignored calls for tighter security for the Benghazi consulate. The Romney campaign pounced when, in last week's vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden said the White House did not know about those requests. Ms Clinton asserted that protecting consular staff worldwide was not the job of the White House but of her office.

Meanwhile a new video released by the Obama campaign yesterday showed the former President Bill Clinton arguing that Mr Romney dissembled in Denver when he disowned what he had said previously in the campaign about lowering taxes on the rich.

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