Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign stop at Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake, Virginia, October 17, 2012.
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign stop at Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake, Virginia, October 17, 2012.

WHITE HOUSE - President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, were back on the campaign trail Wednesday, after Tuesday night's contentious debate.  Both candidates tried to build on the points they made during the debate.

President Obama, Governor Romney, and their running mates fanned out across political swing states on Wednesday, with each man trying to convince voters that his side had won the debate.

Obama paid yet another visit to the crucial states of Iowa and Ohio.  In Mount Vernon, Iowa, the Democratic candidate repeated his contention that Romney’s economic agenda differs from the successful plans of previous presidents.

President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event
President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at Cornell College, in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, October 17, 2012.

“His tax plan does not add up.  His jobs plan does not create jobs.  His deficit reduction plan adds to the deficit.  So, Iowa, everybody here has heard of the New Deal.  You have heard of the Fair Deal.  You have heard of the Square Deal.  Mitt Romney is trying to sell you a sketchy deal," he said. 

Many public opinion surveys taken after the debate indicated that a slight majority of voters believed Obama won the debate, and that he performed better than Romney on women’s issues.

But the surveys also show Romney with a substantial lead over the president on economic issues.

Governor Romney told a rally in Chesapeake, Virginia that the U.S. economy is the main issue on women’s minds, and that he is better suited to address it.

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President Obama during town hall debate in Hempste

“And as I go across the country and ask women, ‘What can I do to help?’, what they speak about, day in and day out, is, ‘Help me find a good job or a good job for my spouse, and help my kid.  Make sure my children have a bright future.’  Better schools and better job opportunities.  That is what the women of America are concerned about, and the answers are coming from us and not from Barack Obama," he said. 

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan had a similar message for supporters at a rally near Cleveland, Ohio. “We saw a president not offer a single idea or a lesson learned from the failures of the last four years.  But what we saw in Governor Mitt Romney was a leader who has the solutions, who has the ideas on how to turn this economy around, how to get people back to work," he said. 

Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Greeley, Colorado, painted a different picture of Obama. “You all saw the man that I have sat with every day, on average four to six hours a day.  A man of principle, a man of gumption, a man with a steady hand and a clear vision.  That is what America got to see last night," he said. 

President Obama’s lead in public opinion surveys has eroded and possibly disappeared after what is widely regarded as a poor performance in the first of the three debates, on October 3.

Journalism professor Alan Schroeder at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts says the president’s better performance in Tuesday’s debate might help him stop the slide.  

“It was a badly needed win for Obama because, of course, he had messed up so badly in the first debate.  And at that point, the positive narrative shifted away from him and onto Mitt Romney.  And so Obama really needed a change of trajectory, just as far as his news coverage went.  I think this debate will give him that," he said. 

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The last of the three presidential debates, set for next Monday, will focus on foreign policy -15 days before the election.

Political scientist Dewey Clayton at the University of Louisville in Kentucky says the candidates might be more guarded in their comments during the final debate.

“I think last night was a no-holds-barred sort of slugfest.  And so it will be interesting to see if it takes a difference stance, if it is slightly more dignified and slightly more reserved, or more cautious, I should say," he said. 

Most public opinion surveys have President Obama and Governor Romney virtually tied.