Can TV debate lift Mitt Romney out of slump?

With early voting under way, the candidates have only a few more chances to impress

The pressure will be on Mitt Romney this week to ensure that the first of his televised debates with President Barack Obama becomes the moment his campaign pulls up from a protracted swoon that some in the Republican Party have started to blame on media bias and skewed polling techniques.

Paul Ryan, his running mate, said yesterday: "I think most people in the mainstream media are left of centre and, therefore, they want a very left-of-centre president versus a conservative president like Mitt Romney. As a conservative, I've long believed and long felt that there is inherent media bias. And I think anybody with objectivity would believe that that's the case."

After the long season of primaries and caucuses that finally gave the Republican nomination to Mr Romney, the campaign for the US president is now in top gear, not least because voters in some swing states are already beginning to make their choices. Early voting began in Iowa last week and will get under way in Ohio tomorrow. It is likely that a record 35 per cent of voters will have ticked their ballot papers ahead of election day this year.

Meanwhile, the debates give candidates their last mass-audience opportunity to make their cases to the country. There will be three between now and 6 November, with the first to be held at Denver University on Wednesday night. Next week Mr Ryan will face off against the Vice-President, Joe Biden, in Kentucky.

Some senior Republicans have sought to lower expectations for Mr Romney, but not so the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. "The whole race is going to turn upside-down come Thursday morning," he said, adding that the debate would highlight the differences between the candidates, "the first time a majority of the people who are going to vote in this race will have an opportunity to make that direct comparison".

But Mr Christie also dismissed those in the party who suggest that Mr Romney's recent slippage in the polls, particularly in some battleground states, may have been exaggerated because poll-takers disproportionately interviewed Democrats. "You look at every different poll and look at its methodology and you can say whether it's a good or bad poll. But do I think there's a concerted effort to skew the polls against Governor Romney? No."

For his part, Mr Ryan, appearing on Fox News, admitted that the past couple of weeks had seen "some missteps" and that his ticket had also been hurt by the recent video secretly taped at a donors' dinner at which Mr Romney seemingly wrote off 47 per cent of the country as "victims" who didn't pay federal income tax. "It was an inarticulate way to describe what we're trying to do to create prosperity and upward mobility, and reduce dependency by getting people off welfare back to work," he conceded. "So, yeah, those – we've had some missteps, but at the end of the day, the choice is really clear and we're giving people a very clear choice." But everything was still to play for, he said. "You know, in these kinds of races, people really focus near the end, and that's happening now."

Newt Gingrich, who competed with Mr Romney for the Republican nomination, argued that his main task tomorrow would be to set himself apart from Mr Obama more clearly. "I think Mitt Romney has to move to clarity in drawing the contrast between the two," Mr Gingrich said. "There has to be a contrast between a Romney recovery and Obama stagnation."

Snapshot gives Obama the lead

Early voting is one thing, but Barack Obama probably wouldn't mind if election day was tomorrow and not five weeks away. Analysis by the Associated Press has him up at least 271 Electoral College votes, against the 270 he needs to return to the White House. In a snapshot of where the race sits now, AP sees Mr Obama taking at least 21 states. Mr Romney would win 23 states but only 206 Electoral College votes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'