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Republican politician won't give up his lifestyle to run for the White House

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets supporters during a campaign rally at the Hy Vee Center in Des Moines, Iowa

Obama and Romney make 'closing arguments' as candidates prepare for frenetic final campaign drive

It was Sunday morning, so they started with a prayer, along with a re-worked version of the hymn Amazing Grace by a country music band. In a way, that set the stage perfectly for the arrival of Mitt Romney, a candidate whose whose final hours on the campaign trail revolve around a big leap of faith.

Barack Obama returned to the White House to co-ordinate the federal response to Sandy

Devastation sees election machines grind to halt

But Romney prepares for risky return to the campaign trail today with rally in Florida

Sluggers Adam LaRoche (left) and Bryce Harper celebrate a score for the Washington Nationals

Baseball: Ready, Teddy, go! Nationals aim to follow the mascot into history

Washington DC has long been a backwater for baseball, but finally has a team to be proud of

Ai Weiwei designed the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in Hyde Park

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gets Smithsonian showcase

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has drawn scrutiny for his political activism, is opening the first North American retrospective exhibition of his work in Washington.

Mitt Romney and his wife in California; the Republican candidate is preparing for a presidential debate this week

Ann Romney: 'I'd be worried for his mental well-being'

In TV interview, candidate's wife admits her fears if he should win White House race

Mitt Romney said a speech by Vice President Joe Biden was 'wild and reckless'

White House race turns nasty as Mitt Romney brands Barack Obama a 'disgrace'

So much for a lofty battle of ideas. The arrival of economic "big thinker" Paul Ryan on the 2012 Republican ticket has instead triggered an avalanche of personal attacks and insults unusual even by the bare-knuckle standards of US presidential politics.

Jonathan Franzen seldom goes for the jugular

Literary spats: Now Vidal has gone, we need a feud good men

With the death of Gore Vidal, US literature loses a master of contempt. With his Roman-senator looks and his curled-lip disdain for lesser mortals, Vidal was a brilliant hater. Acid ran in his veins. Insults were the air he breathed. Put-downs were the bulk of his discourse. He said the three saddest words in the English language were "Joyce Carol Oates". He remarked that Andy Warhol was "the only genius I know of with an IQ of 60" (he later revised this to 20.) He was even rude about English cities. Standing in a rainy Midlands literary festival he once told an interviewer, with heavy sarcasm: "I count a year wasted that does not include a visit to..." (pause) "Bir-ming-ham."

Mitt Romney outside Downing Street yesterday

Romneyshambles: Mitt begins his trip with a swipe at London

US presidential candidate beats hasty retreat after comments on 'disconcerting' Games chaos

Matthew Norman: Some tips for Mitt as he hits our shores

The putative next leader of the free world arrives today, and you will all join me in extending a warm welcome to Willard Mitt Romney. The saviour of the Salt Lake City Winter Games of 2002 is in town both to look presidential and as a member of the "Olympic Family" (the planet's second most lovable, after the Mansons).

Matthew Norman: My advice to Mitt Romney – do mention the horse

If Raisa’s jockey edges away, Mitt must call his wife over to tell him about her dressage horse, Rafalca

Mitt Romney so far has only released tax returns for 2010

Romney booed for attack on Obama at black rally

Mitt Romney received a rough reception from members of the NAACP, the country's oldest black civil rights organisation, yesterday, which erupted into boos and shouts of disapproval when he said he meant to overturn Barack Obama's healthcare reforms.

Mitt Romney: He has held investments in tax havens such as Bermuda and Switzerland

Offshore accounts hand Obama an easy hit in row over Romney's riches

President tries to move on from economy with call to end tax cuts

Chris Meloni's (left) political vampire has drawn inspiration from the Republican Rick Santorum

Trending: 'Senator Rick Sanitorium' is back on HBO. Sort of...

Until now, the closest former US presidential challenger Rick Santorum had got to HBO was when Tony Soprano saluted "Senator Sanitorium" for his comparison of homosexuality to bestiality. No more!

Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor does not rule out a presidential run in the future

Mixed signals as Jeb Bush rules out becoming Mitt Romney's running mate

Jeb Bush, five years out of office as Florida governor but still a towering figure in Republican politics, yesterday flatly ruled out becoming the running mate of the party's presumptive nominee Mitt Romney in November.

KILLED - Abu Yahya al-Libi: Believed to be al-Qa'ida's Number 2, key member of the group's Shariah Committee. Killed by a drone strike in North Waziristan on Monday

US claims al-Qa'ida scalp as drone attack kills terror network's No 2 Abu Yahya al-Libi

Strike in Pakistan follows protests by Islamabad over use of controversial remote-controlled aircraft

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These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

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Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

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