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On the road with the 2012 US election.

Obama unleashes secret campaign weapon

His name is Mitt Romney, and he seems intent on doing everything he can to help the president get re-elected.
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Mitt Romney addresses supporters as he campaigns during a town hall forum at the American Legion Post 109 on March 21, 2012 in Arbutus, Maryland. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
“Stupid and “arrogant.” “Distressingly inept.” “A self-satisfied millionaire” engaged in perpetuating a “country club fantasy.” Those are some of the nicer things being said about Mitt Romney these days — and by his friends on the right, no less.

Campaign 2012: Foreign policy finally front and center

As Mideast protests simmer, the election could turn on how the candidates handle a messy crisis.
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A Kashmiri protester leaps above a burning tire on Sept. 18. He's among a group of angry demonstrators who clashed with Indian police over an anti-Islam film made in the US. (Rouf Bhat/AFP/Getty Images)
Just a few short months ago, foreign policy junkies were ruing the almost complete absence of an international focus in the presidential campaign. With a domestic economy in ruins and an electorate afraid for their jobs, their homes, and their health care, there seemed to be little energy left to ponder problems in distant lands. No more.

Romney’s foreign policy ‘distraction’

The Republican candidate gets a hazing for his neophyte status when it comes to dealing with international crises.
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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Va., on Sept. 13. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
It was just a few days ago that a top foreign policy adviser for Republican nominee Mitt Romney sought to blunt the sharp attacks leveled on his candidate by the Democrats last week in Charlotte. "It doesn't surprise me that [the Obama team is] raising foreign policy because it's another distraction from the administration’s terrible economic record,” said Robert O’Brien, speaking to BuzzFeed. “They're going from one shiny object to the next." But Romney seemed unable to resist engaging the topic on Tuesday evening, when he struck out angrily at the Obama administration for its reaction to the crises in Libya and Egypt.

Libya attack becomes a US campaign issue

Candidates spar over response to mob killing of US ambassador and officials.
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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses the crowd at the 134th National Guard Association Convention at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, September 11, 2012 in Reno, Nevada. (David Calvert/AFP/Getty Images)
No issue, it seems, is too big, too small, or too delicate to serve as fodder for this increasingly ugly presidential campaign. The violent protests and killings of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff in Libya were shocking and unjustifiable. That was clearly stated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while President Barack Obama called the attacks “outrageous.” But this was not enough to satisfy Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Echoes of 9/11 in 2012

Analysis: How the pivotal event of the century is shaping one of the most contentious elections in US history.
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Zachary Ellicott, who lost a family member Keith James Burns, observes a moment of silence for US Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, during memorial ceremonies to mark the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. New York City and the nation are commemorating the 11th anniversary of 9/11. (Chang W. Lee Pool/Getty Images)
“There’s a hole in the tip of Manhattan, a hole in the soul of America,” writes Boston poet and satirist Jimmy Tingle. “A hole in the center of our psyche, a hole in the foundation of our confidence.” The poet then goes on to show how Americans are trying to fill that hole — with religion, with sorrow, with anger, with revenge. And, perhaps, with politics.

RNC vs DNC: Who knows how to party?

The conventions are over, the hubbub has died down. But echoes from Charlotte are still rockin’ the nation.
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President Barack Obama is upbeat, gaining in the polls after the Democratic National Convention, but Republicans are calling that just a "sugar high." Here Obama is at St. Petersburg College September 8, 2012 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE — Now that both major parties have staged their quadrennial extravaganzas, the serious analytical work begins. Which candidate scored the biggest bounce from all the fuss? What do conventions really mean in modern elections? And last, but by no means least: Which party is the coolest? To dispense with the first question: after months of stagnant polls and a deadlocked race, President Barack Obama has opened up a clear lead over challenger Mitt Romney. The latest Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll, released Monday, shows Obama attracting 50 percent of voter support, versus Romney with 45 percent. The number of “undecideds” is achingly small — just 3 percent.

Obama: Hope and change, with a dash of bitters

Barack Obama as you’ve never seen him before.
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Democratic presidential candidate, US President Barack Obama speaks on stage as he accepts the nomination for president during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Tom Pennington/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC — It was part New Year’s Eve, part Fourth of July, with a little Mardi Gras thrown in. By the time President Barack Obama finished his rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night the city was rocking. As people poured out of the Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte resembled nothing so much as a giant street party. When the president finally spoke, it was Obama like they'd never heard him before.

Elizabeth Warren shines in Charlotte

The Massachusetts politician took aim squarely at the GOP.
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Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Alex Wong/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE — Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren was a crowd favorite Wednesday evening at the Times Warner Cable Arena, where she gave a fiery speech for the Democratic National Convention. The applause was loud and sustained from the minute the diminutive law professor walked out onto the stage. Warren, who is in a very tough race against incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, did not mention Brown once in her speech. Instead, she threw her considerable rhetorical talents squarely behind President Barack Obama.

DNC 2012: Bubba on the stump

Bill Clinton brings some old-time magic to Charlotte, and seeks to sway the undecided.
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Former US President Bill Clinton speaks on stage during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on Sept. 5, 2012 in Charlotte, NC. (Alex Wong/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE — It was Bill Clinton’s night at the Democratic National Convention, and the former president seemed to be loving every minute of it. The house loved him, too — the near hour-long speech was interrupted by so many standing ovations that at times it felt like the roof would blast right off the Times Warner Cable Arena. Obama’s task now is to make sure his own speech, to be delivered Thursday night on the same stage, is as outstanding as his predecessor’s.

Julian Castro seeks to deliver the Hispanic vote

Analysis: The Democrats’ rising star rocks the convention with an appeal to immigrants.
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Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas, gives the keynote speech Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE — Young, brilliant, and breaking down ethnic barriers: the parallels with Barack Obama are obvious. When Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas, took the stage at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night to deliver the keynote address, there was a very clear jolt of electricity in the hall. Castro was the first Hispanic politician to be given this coveted spot, and he did not disappoint.