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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
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

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Recruitment Genius: Accountant

£25000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?