President Obama, Romney Hit The Stump But Continue Trading Barbs

Still fresh off a more animated debate performance, President Barack Obama joked Wednesday that he is still trying to get the hang of the face-to-face showdowns with Mitt Romney even as the Republican nominee said the president appears to be “running on fumes” in the run-up to the Nov. 6 election.

Continuing the fierce line of attack he began Tuesday night, Obama told a rally in Iowa that Romney’s tax plans for the country are too “sketchy” for voters to risk putting him in the White House.

“Gov. Romney has been running around talking about his five-point plan for the economy for quite some time,” the president said, playing to big crowds in Iowa and later in Ohio, where 14,000 turned out to see him. “And as I pointed out last night, and you guys heard yourselves, it’s really a one-point plan. … It says folks at the very top can play by their own set of rules.”

In related news, the Obama campaign announced plans to hold an election-night rally at the McCormick Place Convention Center near downtown Chicago, Obama’s hometown and the site of his re-election campaign headquarters.

Supporters are expected to watch the voting results come in and then hear a speech by the president. More than 200,000 revelers flooded Chicago’s Grant Park after Obama beat John McCain in 2008 to become the first black U.S. president.

McCormick Place attracts close to 3 million visitors each year and has assembly seating for 18,000 people, according to its website.

In the meantime, both Obama and the former Massachusetts governor picked up right where they left off from Tuesday’s town-hall-style debate, trading barbs on a number of issues, including women’s health care, energy and taxes.

Instant polls suggested Obama won Tuesday’s debate, though not by the overwhelming margins Romney notched in their Oct. 3 debate in Denver, which helped reset the race and propel the Republican to a lead in national polling.

Democrats were energized by the president’s debate performance, praising him for finally taking a hard line against the GOP challenger.

But the Obama campaign is still struggling to reset the post-Oct. 3 debate storyline that it is struggling in some of the key states.

On the other side, The Associated Press reported that the Romney campaign is so certain of victory in North Carolina it is considering pulling resources out of that state and sending them to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania or Michigan, to try to make a play for one of those states.

Romney spent the day campaigning in Virginia in Chesapeake and Leesburg, where he said the president didn’t present any plans for the next four years during the debate, but instead spent his time trying to tear down Republicans.

“He’s pretty much running on fumes, and the American people want some real answers, and a real agenda,” Romney said at an outdoor rally at Tidewater Community College.

Romney appeared at both Virginia rallies with comedian Dennis Miller.

Tuesday’s debate featured the two men going toe to toe on many of the big issues of the campaign, including energy policy, taxes and last month’s terrorist assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Romney appeared to stumble when he questioned whether the president had mentioned terrorism in his initial post-Libya speech in the Rose Garden.Romney said the administration was slow to spot what all sides now say was a terrorist assault.

In fact, Obama had mentioned “acts of terror” in that speech, though not specifically about the Libya attack. He and his administration spent the days after the attack blaming an anti-Islam video.

The two men meet for one more debate Monday in Florida, with the focus squarely on foreign policy.

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