Obama's campaign, seeking to rebound from a dismal first debate, promised a more energetic president would take the stage Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Romney's team aimed to build on a commanding opening debate that gave the Republican new life in a White House race that had once appeared to be slipping away from him.
"The debate was huge and we've seen our numbers move all across the country," Romney's wife, Ann, said in an interview on Philadelphia radio station WPHT. She talked about the larger crowds her husband has been drawing in the aftermath of that first face-off. "That's what you call momentum," she said.
Much of the pressure in the coming debate will be on Obama, who aides acknowledge showed up at the first face-off with less practice — and far less energy — than they had wanted. Romney, who has made no secret of the huge priority his campaign puts on the debates, practiced Monday at a hotel near his home in Massachusetts.
Romney's advisers suggested the Republican nominee would continue to moderate his message — in tone, if not substance — as he did in the Oct. 3 meeting to help broaden his appeal to the narrow slice of undecided voters. In recent days, Romney has promised his tax plan would not benefit the wealthy, emphasized his work with Democrats as Massachusetts governor and downplayed plans to curtail women's abortion rights.
Ann Romney focused on the struggles women face in her radio interview. "The numbers don't lie and what the numbers tell us is that more women have been hurt by this economy than men, more women are unemployed, and more women have fallen into poverty in the last four years," she said. "We do hear their voices."
During debate preparations, aides are working on tailoring that message to a debate format. They're also working on balancing aggressive tactics with the debate's town-hall format, which often requires candidates to show a connection with questioners from the audience.
Romney's top-flight donors are meeting at New York's tony Waldorf Astoria hotel through Wednesday, getting a chance to mingle with Ryan and attend strategy briefings and policy discussions with senior Romney aides.
The retreat appears to be a scaled-down version of a posh Park City, Utah, gathering this summer for Romney's most generous contributors. There, Romney officials hosted campaign updates and set ambitious fundraising goals for the general election.
Obama ad: http://tinyurl.com/ck3oblq
Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in Belmont, Mass., and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.
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