America decides: Obama-Romney race 'a dead heat' as rivals face last debate

With two weeks to go, poll suggests White House contest is closest since Bush vs Gore

Boca Raton, Florida

With polls suggesting a dead-heat in the US presidential election, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were yesterday cramming for the third and last debate tonight in Boca Raton, Florida, that will give each man a critical chance to grab the momentum going into the final frantic two weeks of the contest.

While Mr Romney was already in Florida, itself one of a handful of key battleground states, Mr Obama was huddled with advisors at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland, ahead of the debate. The stakes may be highest for the President, who, since the first debate in Denver, has seen his advantage in polls evaporate.

Moderated by veteran CBS anchor Bob Schieffer on the campus of Lynn University, the debate will be watched by millions of Americans, only a sliver of whom are still open to persuasion. While the questions will be about foreign affairs, with the Libyan killings, the nuclear stand-off with Iran and the rise of China sure to dominate, both men are likely to pivot frequently to the economy.

In another sign that the race may have become the tightest since George W Bush just squeezed out Al Gore in 2000, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll saw both men tied at 47 per cent each among likely voters. Mr Romney is helped by a 10-point lead among men while Mr Obama holds a slightly diminished eight-point lead among women.

Mr Obama will be pressured again to explain the conflicting statements made in the wake of the 11 September attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. While it now seems that some in the administration knew from the intelligence services within 24 hours that the attack was the work of militants, some US officials, notably Susan Rice, the US envoy to the UN, continued for days to say it was the work of a mob angered by an anti-Islam video.

Potentially helpful to Mr Romney meanwhile was a report yesterday, denied by both sides, that Iran and the US have agreed to engage in bilateral talks on the Iranian nuclear programme, if only because it will serve as a reminder that Mr Obama's approach on Iran – first to try to engage its leaders and then to pursue ever-tightening sanctions – has still not worked.

Mr Obama has battered his opponent for tacking away from radical positions taken earlier in his campaign, for instance on immigration and abortion, terming it "Romnesia". But Republicans accuse the President of failing to detail an agenda for four more years. "That fires up his base, people who are going to vote for him anyway," said Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio. "But for the rest of Americans who are trying to make up their mind who to vote for, what they're wondering is, 'Well, that's very cute Mr President, but what are you going to do for the future?'"

On Wednesday, President Obama will begin a frenzied 48-hour campaign blitz that will feature rallies, some in the dead of night in places as far apart as Davenport in Iowa, Denver, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. From there he will track back east to Tampa in Florida, Richmond in Virginia, Chicago and Cleveland in Ohio.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future