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Romney ups criticism of Obama's second-term plans

By Kasie Hunt

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Oct. 20 2012 3:01 p.m. MDT

An independent group backing Obama, though, is trying to renew attention on Romney's tenure at the helm of the private equity firm Bain Capital. The group, Priorities USA Action, is re-airing an ad about an AMPAD plant in Marion, Ind. That spot features former employee Mike Earnest recalling being told to build a stage from which officials of the office supply company later announced mass layoffs.

He says, "It was like building my own coffin." That ad first aired in battleground states in the summer.

Romney aides have said AMPAD was a struggling business to begin with, and Bain overall created many more jobs than were lost.

That ad will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. The new campaign will be in addition to a $30 million effort against Romney policy proposals, the group said.

Monday's debate in Boca Raton, Fla., with its focus on international affairs, is the third and final between the two rivals and comes just 15 days before the election.

Obama left Friday for Camp David, the presidential hideaway in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, where he is huddled with advisers preparing for the debate. Among those with him are White House senior adviser David Plouffe and senior campaign strategist David Axelrod. Aides say Obama was also being assisted by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and former Obama aide Karen Dunn.

Romney was also with aides preparing for the debate, spending the weekend in Florida.

Both campaigns are heavily targeting Florida and its 29 electoral votes — the most of any tossup state. It was the second day of a two-day Florida swing for Biden, which overlapped a two-day swing by Ryan. Romney's wife, Ann, was also in Florida Saturday and First Lady Michelle Obama planned a visit Monday, ahead of the presidential debate that night in Boca Raton. The president is planning at least two days of campaigning in Florida after the debate.

Monday's 90-minute debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News. It will be similar to the first debate, with both men standing at lecterns on a stage. Schieffer has listed five subject areas, with more time devoted to the Middle East and terrorism than any other topic.

While the economy has been the dominant theme of the election, foreign policy has attracted renewed media attention in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Obama had ranked well with the public on his handling of international issues and in fighting terrorism, especially following the death of Osama bin Laden. But the administration's response to the Libya attack and questions over levels of security at the consulate have given Romney and his Republican allies an issue with which to raise doubts about Obama's foreign policy leadership.

Romney has spent large amounts of time off the campaign trail to prepare for the upcoming foreign policy debate. Aides say the additional time preparing is well-spent even if it comes at the expense of public events.

Kuhnhenn reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Ken Thomas in Washington and Ann Sanner in Belmont, Ohio, contributed to this report.

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