DENVER - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has arrived in Colorado for his first debate with President Barack Obama which he is counting on to set him on a path to winning the presidency at a time when polls show him trailing the incumbent.
Romney spent more than eight days in September holding mock debates, poring over policy briefing books and sparring with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who stood in for Obama. Romney planned another day of preparation Tuesday at his hotel on the outskirts of Denver, where most of his top advisers and at least a dozen more junior aides milled about in the lobby Monday night.
They had just come from a Romney rally, held with thousands of supporters packing a hangar at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, where Romney tried to enunciate a clearer message than the varying pitches he's made to voters in recent weeks.
Though his campaign once talked about nothing but the economy, all the time, he's recently diverged into subjects including wealth distribution, Medicare health insurance for the elderly and foreign policy as he has looked to seize any opportunity to gain ground on the incumbent president.
Romney also brought up immigration in an interview published Tuesday by the Denver Post, saying he would honour temporary work permits for young illegal immigrants who were allowed to stay in the U.S. because of an executive order signed this summer by Obama.
Obama retreated to a desert resort in Nevada for three days of intensive debate preparation for Wednesday night. He was joined by a cadre of top advisers, who are focused on helping Obama trim his often-lengthy explanations to fit the debate format. Equally important is coaching Obama to look calm and presidential during an expected onslaught of criticism from Romney.
This year's first debate will deal with domestic policies. But in the run up to the debate, Romney was trying to prove his own readiness to be commander in chief and force Obama to answer for turmoil in places like Libya, where terrorists killed the U.S. ambassador on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS