On the trail: Obama talks 'Romnesia,' Romney criticizes 'silly word games'

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 19 2012 2:25 p.m. MDT

International issues competed with the economy for voters' attention Friday, as fresh questions arose over what the White House knew when about the deadly attack on Americans in Libya.

In an interview, Ryan accused Obama of stonewalling, telling Milwaukee radio station WTMJ that the president was refusing to answer even basic questions.

"His response has been inconsistent, it's been misleading," Ryan said.

Romney and Ryan have criticized the administration for saying at first that the attack was a spontaneous mob reaction to an anti-Muslim video on YouTube when they now acknowledge it was a terrorist attack. U.S. officials told The Associated Press that the CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington within 24 hours of the attack to say there was evidence it was carried out by militants, although it's unclear who received that information right away.

Despite increased focus on Libya, the economy remains the No. 1 election issue for most voters.

Friday's jobs report showed the unemployment rate falling slightly in seven battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. Rates held steady at 5.7 percent in New Hampshire and 5.9 percent in Virginia. Unemployment in both states has long been well below the national average.

Nevada's 11.8 percent rate is the highest nationally. Iowa has the lowest battleground state rate, with 5.2 percent out of work.

Obama has staked his re-election prospects on the notion that the economic crisis he inherited is easing. He's been backed by positive trends for a handful of recent economic indicators, as well as polls showing the public's view of the economy is improving.

But millions of Americans are still out of work, giving Romney an opportunity to cast the president as ineffective in solving the country's economic troubles. Romney, too, has plenty of economic data to back up his argument, including disappointing earnings reports Friday from major companies, including Microsoft and McDonald's.

Both campaigns say the last round of data released ahead of Election Day is unlikely to sway voters who have been living the reality of the economic downturn and weak recovery for more than four years.

John Patterson, 25, a recent college graduate from North Carolina, said he doesn't have to look at unemployment numbers to know things aren't good in his home state. He's sent out resumes and had a few interviews but is still unemployed.

Patterson voted for Obama four years ago, but says he's not sure he'll do the same this time around.

"Things haven't really changed, have they?" he said. "I mean, too many people are still out of work."

Back in Ohio, Diana Huddleston said the falling unemployment rate has done little to help her personal economic situation. Her husband lost his jobs a few years back when an aluminum producer in the region cut back. He eventually found work as a dishwasher, Huddleston said, but that position comes with much lower pay.

Huddleston says she doesn't plan to vote in the presidential election because "nothing is going to change here."

Rugaber reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Nedra Picker in Washington, Ken Thomas in Fairfax, Va., Kasie Hunt in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Emery Dalesio in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.

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