Romney aims at economy; Obama pushes 2nd term
DAVENPORT, Iowa -- President Barack Obama is confidently predicting speedy second-term agreement with Republicans to reduce federal deficits and overhaul immigration laws.
Republican Mitt Romney looked to the Midwest for a breakthrough in a close race shadowed by a weak economy.
Romney declared, "We're going to get this economy cooking again," addressing a crowd in Reno, Nev. He urged audience members to consider their personal circumstances, and he said the outcome of the Nov. 6 election "will make a difference for the nation, will make a difference for the families of the nation and will make a difference for your family, individually and specifically."
Democrats and Republicans are struggling for control of the Senate. And for the second time, a hard-fought Senate campaign was jolted by a dispute about abortion, in this case a statement by Republican Richard Mourdock of Indiana that when a woman becomes pregnant by rape, "that's something God intended" and there should be no abortion allowed.
Romney said he disagreed with the remarks. Unlike an earlier abortion-related controversy involving Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, a candidate for U.S. Senate, Romney did not disavow his support for Mourdock, who is locked in a close race with Rep. Joe Donnelly, his Democratic opponent.
The president's major focus was a coast-to-coast-and-back-again tour.
"We're going to pull an all-nighter. No sleep," the president said shortly after Air Force One touched down in Iowa, first stop of a swing that included Colorado, California, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Florida, with a quick stop in Illinois to cast an early ballot, before he returns to the White House tonight.
Obama's far-flung rallies were somewhat overshadowed by a day-old interview with editors of the Des Moines Register, originally meant to be off the record, made public by the White House under public pressure from the newspaper.
Without ever saying so, by his comments Obama sought to undercut Romney's oft-repeated claims that he had worked successfully with Democrats while governor of Massachusetts and would do so again in the White House.
As for the second-term agreement, the president is "absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain" on the federal budget that he and Republicans futilely pursued in 2011, including $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in higher revenue, with steps to reduce the costs of health care programs.
"We can credibly meet the target the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction" over a decade, he said.
Efforts to agree on a sweeping deficit-cutting deal with House Speaker John Boehner more than a year ago fell apart when liberals resisted measures Obama has accepted, including a gradual increase in the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67 from 65. Conservatives balked at the speaker's willingness to include higher tax revenue as part of any agreement.
Nor did the president embrace the recommendations put together by the Bowles-Simpson Commission, a panel of outsiders that he appointed to recommend a solution to the nation's long-running budget deadlock.
As for immigration, another issue that seems permanently gridlocked, the president said, "Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country -- the Latino community."
It was a suggestion that Republicans will have to ease their opposition to measures giving illegal immigrants a path to permanent residence or citizenship if they lose the election.