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On the road with the 2012 US election.

Iowa: Eager for change, reluctant to commit

The quintessential swing state just keeps on swinging.
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Voting booths are set up for early voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on September 27, 2012 in Waterloo, Iowa. Early voting starts today in Iowa where in the 2008 election 36 percent of voters cast an early ballot. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CLINTON, Iowa — Vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan was all down-home humor and folksy charm as he wooed a crowd of about 350 people here on a crisp fall morning.

At the Denver debate, Romney needs a knockout

When the two candidates square off on Wednesday night, the pressure will be on the Republican challenger.
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Republican US presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at Westerville South High School September 26, 2012 in Westerville, Ohio. Romney continued his two-day 'Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class' bus tour in the state of Ohio. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Political experts will tell you that, in a first debate with an incumbent, the challenger has the advantage. Theoretically, all Mitt Romney has to do is hold his own against Barack Obama in Denver and he scores an automatic point for appearing presidential. But in reality, Romney will be fighting for his political survival when the two men meet on Wednesday night.

Ann Romney fear factor: Is the media biased?

Analysis: Ann Romney innocently kicks off a firestorm about her husband’s mental health. But why?
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Ann Romney says she worries about her husband Mitt Romney's mental health should he win the presidential election. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
It’s one thing when the candidate, be it Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Todd Aken, or Donald Duck, makes a genuine gaffe. But when a candidate’s wife says she worries about the mental and emotional strain on her husband should he become president, it is a bit of a stretch to spin that into a scandal.

Sarah Palin for president?

In rural Ohio, residents are not impressed with either of the main political candidates.
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Former Alaska governor and Republican vice president candidate Sarah Palin speaks at the Long Island Association's annual meeting, Feb. 17, 2011 in Woodbury, New York. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
ROGERS, Ohio — The Rogers Flea Market, a weekly event in this northeastern corner of Ohio, draws people from far and wide, combing through mounds of goods in search of treasures. But on this crisp early fall day, the greatest finds might be the merchants themselves. With Ohio smack in the center of the political world, courtesy of frantic campaigning by both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, residents seem fairly well informed about the course of the campaign. This does not necessarily mean they like it, though.

Campaign 2012: Ohio turns blue

Romney has tripped over his own image to lose voters he should have won.
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Escorted by CEO Tim Selhorst, right, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tours American Spring Wire prior to a roundtable discussion with media personality Mike Rowe and business leaders on Sept. 26 in Bedford Heights, Ohio. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND — Who are you calling a tossup? With just days to go before early voting starts in Ohio, the Buckeye State is looking less like the battleground it has long been, and more like a comfortable win for President Barack Obama. Over the past week, this Midwestern electoral prize has hosted both major candidates, seen unprecedented amounts of cash flow in for a nasty Senate race, and, just incidentally, moved over to the “leaning Obama” column in some of the most respected political organizations.

Romney’s campaign has become a parody of itself

In Romneyland, it is no longer possible to tell reality from satire. Does it even matter?
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Protesters carry an effigy of Mitt Romney through Tampa, Fla. as the Republican National Convention got under way. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
HANOVERTON, Ohio — It’s official. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has gone from tragedy to farce, from his Florida fundraiser to airplane windows. But Romney has provided so much fodder that now even apparently satirical works about the Republican candidate are being taken as fact.

Is this the UN General Assembly or a US campaign stop?

In an election year, it’s hard to tell the difference.
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US President Barack Obama addresses the 67th UN General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2012. (Emmanuel Dunand//AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY — The president’s message may have been one of forbearance and unity, but the international trappings fooled no one. Obama is fighting for his political life, and his remarks at the UN were every bit as much a campaign speech as any rally or town hall he visited on the stump.

No 'fireworks' in 60 Minutes’ proxy debate

Little heat as the presidential candidates face off — sort of — in prime time.
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A photo composite of US President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. (Kent Nishimura/Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
With just six weeks to go before Election Day, all eyes are on the two main players in the nation’s ongoing presidential drama. President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney will square off in front of a national television audience on Oct. 3, in the first of three debates between the two. But it seems the voters just can’t wait.
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Syrian author Samar Yazbek talks about her book “A Woman in the Crossfire” at Brown University. (Steve Landrigan/Courtesy)
The Syrian regime is now trying to sell the world a story that the uprising is made up of radical Islamists, members of the Salafi sect, intent on imposing an extremist Islamic state in Syria, says Samar Yazbek. This Syrian author is determined to tell a different story.

Campaign trail: A New Hampshire Summer White House? NIMBY!

In Wolfeboro, the Republican candidate's favorite summer retreat in swing state New Hampshire, residents contemplate life with the Romneys.
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US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann in Wolfeboro, NH. On television, their visits, like the much publicized Fourth of July, look like a love fest. But weary locals say the Secret Service presence is a big turnoff. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
It’s not hard to see why this exquisite town calls itself the Jewel of Lake Winnipesaukee. With an azure fall sky overhead, the sun glistening on the water, life is sweet in this central New Hampshire town. But the charming decor is slightly marred by the plethora of campaign signs dotted around lawns and bolted onto buildings. While there is a huge Obama-Biden billboard on the way into town, once you reach Wolfeboro the message is much more tilted to “Believe in America.”