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Saturday, October 13, 2012




Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is accompanied by a U.S. Secret Service agent as he leaves debate preparation at a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Romney is concluding a week of campaign rallies that saw him drawing larger, more excited crowds than he has through the fall campaign. More than 10,000 people turned out to several rallies, with the campaign saying that more people were signing up to attend events since Romney's strong debate performance last week in Denver.
"I've had the fun of going back and forth across Ohio, and this week I was also in Florida and Iowa, I was in North Carolina and Virginia. And you know what? There is a growing crescendo of enthusiasm," Romney told a crowd of thousands at a sunset rally Friday in Lancaster, south of Columbus, where he and running mate Paul Ryan appeared together. "There's more energy and passion. People are getting behind this campaign. We are taking back this country."
Saturday will be the fourth of the last five days Romney will spend campaigning in this industrial, Midwestern state — with 18 electoral votes, it's critical to his hopes of winning the White House. His campaign swing comes as he and Republicans criticize Obama for the handling of the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Romney accused Vice President Joe Biden of "doubling down on denial" concerning security at the diplomatic post where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed. During the vice presidential debate Thursday, Biden said "we weren't told" about the Benghazi consulate's requests for additional security. Although a State Department official told Congress on Wednesday about the requests, the White House said Friday that Biden was speaking just for himself and for the president.
"The vice president directly contradicted the sworn testimony of State Department officials," said Romney, who was eager to stoke a controversy that has flared periodically since the attack. "American citizens have a right to know just what's going on. And we're going to find out."
Romney spent nearly four hours Saturday morning at a hotel outside Columbus preparing for Tuesday's debate showdown with Obama in Hempstead, N.Y. He returns to Massachusetts in the evening but first makes two campaign stops in Ohio.
After his widely panned performance in the first presidential debate, polls show Obama still holds a slim edge in Ohio. The state is crucial for Romney because his path to winning the 270 electoral college votes he needs is far narrower if he can't win Ohio. Losing here would mean he'd have to win almost all of the other up-for-grabs battleground states.
Obama was in Ohio this week, too, but he was spending the weekend in Williamsburg, Va., preparing for the debate. The president has acknowledged he needs to turn in a stronger performance when the two meet again.

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