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.

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
His band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Art & Design Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

Assistant Management Accountant -S/West London - £30k - £35k

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: We are working with an exciting orga...

Deputy Education Manager

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Deputy Education Manager required, S...

Bookkeeper -South West London - £25k - £30k

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: We are working with an exciting orga...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering