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Monday, October 15, 2012

Obama Campaign Feels \'Good\' About State of Race

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. â€" The Obama campaign insisted it remained sanguine about the state of the presidential race, a day before President Obama meets Mitt Romney in Hempstead, N.Y., for a second high-stakes debate.

With polls showing Mr. Obama clinging to a narrow lead in the crucial battleground of Ohio, and early voting well underway in several states, a spokeswomen for the campaign, Jennifer Psaki, said, “We feel good about where are in the race.” Ms. Psaki said the campaign's early-voting operation was superior to that of Mr. Romney's campaign.

The Obama campaign has been scrambling to halt the shift in momentum in Mr. Romney's favor since the first debate in Denver, which left many Democrats disappointed with the president's performance. Mr. Romney has jumped to a small lead over Mr. Obama in several national polls, as well as in battleground states like Florida, Colorado, and Virginia. But Ms. Psaki said that after two weeks of churn, the state polls w ere reasonably stable.

“It's very, very close,” she said to reporters at Mr. Obama's debate camp in this colonial tourist town. “There are some states where we're up by a few points, there are some states where we're down a few points. It's tightened, which we fully expected would happen.”

The White House and campaign officials were stingy with details about Mr. Obama's preparation, beyond saying that it was dead serious. Ms. Psaki described the president as “calm and energized” and said he had interrupted his preparation only for a brief visit to the local campaign office Sunday, and to walk the leafy grounds at his golf resort here.

“We know the president is his own harshest critic and he knows that Mitt Romney had a better debate,” she said. “But people across the country aren't voting on who is the better salesman-in-chief; they're looking for who is going to better represent them in the White House.”

“That's why he's looking forward to answering questions from the American people tomorrow night,” she added. “Some that will be about the economy, some that will be about many other issues. Of course, we have no control over that.”

How much control they will have over the moderator, Candy Crowley of CNN, is another matter. Ms. Psaki declined to comment on a report by Mark Halperin of Time Magazine that the Obama and Romney campaigns both protested to the Presidential Debate Commission that Ms. Crowley had indicated she planned to ask follow-up questions at the debate â€" a town-hall format, in which voters are supposed to ask most of the questions.

“Obviously this is a town-hall, which means the questions will be coming for the American people in the audience,” she said. “But if the questions come from other sources, he's happy to address those questions as well.”