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President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney have begun a crucial swing through key battleground states that will determine who wins Tuesday’s vote.

Barack Obama campaigns in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Virginia on Saturday, while Mitt Romney targets New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado.

Both candidates will visit the Iowa town of Dubuque within hours.

Opinion polls suggest the rivals are almost tied, although Barack Obama is slightly ahead in most swing states.

Barack Obama, addressing crowds of Democratic supporters in Mentor, Ohio, said the election was a choice “about two different visions for America: the top down vision that crashed the economy, or a future built on a strong and growing middle class”.

Republican MItt Romney, opening his three-state campaign day in New Hampshire, said: “Let me tell you what I’d like to tell you: Vote for love of country. It is time we lead America to a better place.”

These frantic last days mark a punishing sprint at the end of a long marathon.

On the eve of the election, the pendulum appears to be moving towards Barack Obama, as the opinion polls are not shifting in Mitt Romney’s favor in enough battleground states.

Barack Obama has arguably had the better of the past week, given Friday’s moderately good news on the employment front and the wide praise of his handling of the aftermath of Storm Sandy. He also won the endorsement of independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney target key swing states as latest polls suggest they are almost tied

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney target key swing states as latest polls suggest they are almost tied

Correspondents say Mitt Romney has the tougher task for victory on Tuesday, as he must win a majority of the nine most keenly contested states.

But Barack Obama’s opinion poll lead in all the swing states is within the margin of error and Tuesday’s vote is likely to be close.

The election is run using an electoral college. Each state is given a number of votes based on its population. The candidate who wins 270 electoral college votes becomes president.

Ohio is proving to be a tough battle and, with 18 college votes, could prove a tipping point.

Barack Obama began his Saturday campaigning in the Ohio town of Mentor, while Mitt Romney staged his biggest rally of the campaign so far – 18,000 people – in West Chester on Friday.

Mitt Romney was joined by former primary rivals Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, as well as the defeated 2008 presidential candidate John McCain.

He said: “We’re almost home. One final push will get us there. The door to a brighter future is there, it’s open, it’s waiting for us.”

The Republican, whose main manifesto pledges are lower taxes and a $500 billion federal budget cut by 2012, said Friday’s jobs report was actually a “sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill”.

Barack Obama has held mid-range rallies so far but plans to increase the size over the weekend, when he will be joined by former President Bill Clinton in Virginia on Saturday and in New Hampshire on Sunday.

The president campaigned hard in Ohio on Friday, highlighting his decision to bail out indebted US car makers in 2009, a move that was politically unpopular but which he says helped restore the industry.

Barack Obama’s manifesto sets out tax rises for the wealthy and more funding for job creation.

Mitt Romney has tried to make inroads into Pennsylvania, where opinion polls suggest the Democrats lead by four to five points but which would be a crucial boost to his chances if he could secure its 20 college votes.

The Republican challenger has also wooed Michigan and Minnesota, forcing the Democrats into late advertising there.

Early voting has been a key focus of this presidential election – some 25 million voters have already cast ballots in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

Some states have released the affiliation of early voters, giving Barack Obama an edge in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio, while Mitt Romney is favored in Colorado.

However, the figures suggest Barack Obama does not have the lead he had over John McCain four years ago.

Nevertheless, the Obama team has released data showing that two-thirds of those who have voted early are women, young people, blacks and Hispanics – demographics the Democrats say favor them.

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Allie Romney, Mitt Romney’s granddaughter and the daughter of Tag and Jenn Romney, is the latest elite youngster to feature on the blog Rich Kids of Instagram.

Rich Kids of Instagram rounds up photos snapped by America’s wealthiest offspring as they drive Lamborghinis, drink copious amounts of Dom Perignon champagne and generally indulge their every, invariably expensive, whim.

Showing she is most definitely not amongst the 47% grandfather Mitt Romney famously wrote off, the pretty 16-year-old appears on the site not only wearing an expensive ball gown but clutching its famed fashion designer’s arm.

“Oscar de la Renta I love you lots sir! Thank you for everything!” Allie Romney wrote on two photos posted a couple of months ago on her Instagram page.

Mitt Romney, who is hoping this time next week he’ll have been named the country’s 45th president, is worth an estimated $250 million, according to Bloomberg News.

He earned his fortune when he helped pioneer the private equity industry as co-founder of Bain Capital.

Allie Romney appears on Rich Kids of Instagram not only wearing an expensive ball gown but clutching Oscar de la Renta's arm

Allie Romney appears on Rich Kids of Instagram not only wearing an expensive ball gown but clutching Oscar de la Renta’s arm

With the motto “They have more money than you and this is what they do”, Rich Kids of Instagram follows the lavish lifestyles of such rich kids as Hilton hotel heir Baron Hilton and the Dell CEO’s daughter Alexa Dell.

The heirs and heiresses are seen using private jets, driving hot pink Bentleys and quaffing limited edition bottles of Perignon in the pictures they upload to their Instagram accounts, which anger and disgust the many who disagree with the staggering level of excess.

Summing up the obscene opulence that is the norm for these youngsters, Rich Kids of Instagram has chronicled how its regulars fared through Hurricane Sandy, as it ravaged large parts of New York, New Jersey and a raft of other states.

In stark contrast to the thousands who were left without power, food and clean water for days, the wealthy teens and young adults posted photos of themselves stockpiling room service, rather than tinned food, and driving a Lamborghini to pick up fast food.


President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have embarked on a final frenzy of campaigning, four days before the general election.

Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent, spoke at three events in Ohio, a state that could be decisive in his bid to be elected for a second term.

Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, appeared in Wisconsin before moving on to two events in hotly fought Ohio.

Opinion polls show the two rivals neck and neck on the final stretch.

On Friday, the US Department of Labor said 171,000 new jobs were created in October, which was better than expected.

The figures, the last major economic data to be released before the election, also showed the unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.9% from 7.8%.

On the campaign trail, the candidates framed the race for the White House as a choice between two different visions of America.

“We know what change looks like, and what the governor is offering ain’t it,” Barack Obama told supporters in Ohio.

Speaking soon after the jobs figures were released, Barack Obama added: “We’ve made real progress, but we’ve got more work to do.”

However, Mitt Romney told supporters the report was a “sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill”.

“Candidate Obama promised change, but he couldn’t deliver it. I promise change, but I have a record of achieving it,” the former Massachusetts governor said.

“[Barack Obama] has never led, never worked across the aisle, never truly understood how jobs are created in the economy.”

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have embarked on a final frenzy of campaigning

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have embarked on a final frenzy of campaigning

The vice-presidential candidates were also on the trail.

Democrat Vice-President Joe Biden spent the day campaigning in Wisconsin, while Republican running mate Paul Ryan made stops in Colorado and Iowa before joining Mitt Romney at an event in Ohio.

First Lady Michelle Obama was also on the stump on her husband’s behalf in Virginia.

The frantic pace of campaigning is set to continue over the weekend, with the president scheduled to visit four battleground states – Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia – on Saturday alone.

He is then due to appear in New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Colorado on Sunday, the penultimate day of canvassing.

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is heading to New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado on Saturday – three states that his opponent carried in 2008.

The wealthy former businessman finishes his weekend tour with stops in Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Correspondents say the fate of the election boils down to what happens in a small handful of states that either candidate could win.

Ohio, with 20 electoral college votes, has been seen by many as the single most critical state of them all.

An opinion poll released on Friday by Rasmussen Reports said the candidates were tied there.

But the RealClearPolitics.com average of Ohio surveys put Barack Obama 2.4 points ahead.

The White House hopefuls were also urging key groups of voters to back them at the ballot box on Tuesday, as a report from the Pew Hispanic Center suggested that about 70% of Latino voters support Barack Obama, over about 20% for Mitt Romney.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has been urging his supporters to head to their polling stations early.

Last week, the president himself took a break from the campaign trail to cast an early ballot in his hometown of Chicago.

It is estimated about 24 million people have already voted.


Official figures from the Labor Department show the US economy added 171,000 new jobs in October, which was much more than had been expected.

However, the official figures showed that the unemployment rate still rose to 7.9%, having fallen to 7.8% in September, as more workers resumed the search for jobs.

Only people who are currently looking for a job count as unemployed.

Unemployment is one of the key issues ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election.

The figures were the last major set of economic data scheduled before the election and the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, has made the state of the jobs market one of the central planks of his campaign.

“Today’s increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill,” Mitt Romney said.

“The jobless rate is higher than it was when President Obama took office, and there are still 23 million Americans struggling for work.”

The number of jobs created in the previous two months was revised upwards, with an extra 34,000 jobs added in September and 50,000 added in August.

Despite the new jobs, Barack Obama will still go to the polls with the highest rate of unemployment of any president seeking re-election since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

But the rise in the rate of unemployment may be seen as a sign of confidence in the economy, because it was caused by people who had given up looking for work returning to the job market, analysts say.

The total workforce, which is the number of people either working or looking for jobs, rose 578,000 in October.

“While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the US economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” said Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in a statement from the White House.

“It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.”

The Labor Department said in its release that Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast of the US on 29 October, had had “no discernible effect” on the employment data.

The number of involuntary part-time workers, who would prefer to be working full-time, fell 269,000 to 8.3 million, having risen by 582,000 in September.

Kathy Jones from Charles Schwab said they were good numbers, but warned that: “We’re way short of where we need to be to bring down the unemployment rate to where the Federal Reserve would like to see, closer to 6% than 8%.”

“We would need to see twice as many jobs as we’re seeing, but the direction has improved.”

The average number of jobs added per month so far in 2012 has been 157,000, which is slightly ahead of the average of 153,000 in 2011.

The category adding the most jobs in October was professional and business services, followed by healthcare and retailing.

There was also a small increase in employment in the construction sector, which has been helped by a pick-up in house building.

The average working week was 34.4 hours for the fourth month in a row, while the average hourly wage was down one cent at $23.58.

Despite there being signs of momentum in the jobs market, there is great concern in the US about what 2013 will bring.

Whoever wins the presidential election will have to reach a budget agreement with legislators by the end of the year, to prevent $600 billion of tax increases and spending cuts kicking in automatically in 2013.

The measures, known as the fiscal cliff, could take the US back into recession.

There is also some uncertainty about the coming months as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

Many businesses will have their work interrupted by effects of the storms. On the other hand, reconstruction on the East Coast is likely to increase employment in the construction sector.

In New York, the Dow Jones was up 1% in early trading.


New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg – a political independent who has played a prominent role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – has delivered a big boost to President Barack Obama by endorsing him for re-election.

Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat who became a Republican to run for Big Apple mayor in 2001 and ran as an Independent for re-election in 2009, said that Hurricane Sandy had helped reshape his thinking about the presidential campaign.

He had been pointedly critical of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, saying that both men had failed to address properly the problems afflicting the nation.

But Michael Bloomberg said in recent days he had decided that Barack Obama was the best candidate to tackle climate change, which the mayor cited as a contributory factor to the violent storm that took the lives of at least 38 New Yorkers and brought carnage costing billions of dollars.

“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast – in lost lives, lost homes and lost business – brought the stakes of next Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,” Michael Bloomberg wrote in an article for his own website Bloomberg View.

“Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be – given the devastation it is wreaking – should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”

NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg has delivered a big boost to Barack Obama by endorsing him for re-election

NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg has delivered a big boost to Barack Obama by endorsing him for re-election

The timing of the endorsement is unexpected because Michael Bloomberg this week publicly called on Barack Obama to resist visiting New York this week because the city was too busy dealing with the disaster.

But his backing is the latest indication that Hurricane Sandy could be a big factor in Tuesday’s election.

Barack Obama has already used it to burnish his bipartisan credentials and a Washington Post/ABC poll found that 80 per cent of voters viewed his actions favorably.

Republicans dismissed the endorsement saying that Michael Bloomberg, as the epitome of the monied east coast elite, would hardly sway voters in the mid-West battleground states.

But there is little doubt that the Romney campaign would dearly have loved to have had the New York mayor’s backing.

Barack Obama said in a statement: “I am honored to have Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement. I deeply respect him for his leadership in business, philanthropy and government, and appreciate the extraordinary job he’s doing right now, leading New York City through these difficult days.”

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Ten of lesser-spotted things about American presidential politics and about 2012 campaign.

1. Why is Election Day always a Tuesday?

Even though America’s voter turnout is among the lowest in mature democracies and more than a quarter of people who do not vote claim they are too busy, efforts to move elections to weekends have failed.

The Tuesday after the first Monday in November was set as presidential Election Day in 1845.

In the mid-19th Century, the US was an agrarian nation and it simply took a lot of time for farmers to drive the horse and buggy to the nearest polling place.

Saturday was a workday on the farm, travel on Sunday was out, and Wednesday was a market day. That left Tuesday.

2. The sunglasses thing

Politicians are almost never photographed wearing sunglasses, especially during election campaigns and even at leisure.

Barack Obama plays golf with the sun glaring in his eyes, and this summer, Mitt Romney was photographed on the back of a jet ski on a lake in New Hampshire, bare-eyed though his wife Ann wore sunglasses.

If a person’s eyes are hidden, people trust them less, says Parker Geiger, an Atlanta executive image consultant.

“You just don’t get a sense of the individual,” he says.

“There’s no eye contact – that’s how you build trust. Sunglasses put a barrier between you and the other person. They say eyes are the windows of the soul, and if I can’t see your soul how can I trust you?”

3. In Nevada, you can vote for “none of the above”

The US state of Nevada allows voters to mark “None of these candidates” on the ballot.

The option has been on the ballot since 1976 and plenty of voters have used it.

In 2010 after a particularly brutish campaign for a US Senate seat, 2.25% of voters chose “None” rather than pick incumbent Democrat Harry Reid or Republican challenger Sharon Angle. Harry Reid won.

4. Thumb jab

Featured in the three presidential debates were Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and… Obama’s thumb.

At the debates, the president frequently jabbed his hand, with his thumb resting atop a loosely curled fist, to emphasize a point.

The gesture – which might appear unnatural in normal communication – was probably coached into Barack Obama to make him appear more forceful, says body language expert Patti Wood.

“It’s a symbolic weapon,” says Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma.

“Speakers are coached to do it to look strong and mighty and to grab the attention of their audience, and in a political speech to emphasize strong points and to look like you are powerful.”

And on a subconscious level it’s phallic, she says. “It’s sexually male. Men put out their thumb and it says <<I am a man>>.”

Ten of lesser-spotted things about American presidential politics and about 2012 campaign

Ten of lesser-spotted things about American presidential politics and about 2012 campaign

5. Job titles are for life

Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts for four years – and he left office almost six years ago. Yet he is still addressed as Governor Mitt Romney, as if that were a title of nobility rather than a political office.

The US has only one president at a time, but Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are always referred to as President Clinton and President Bush – even in the same sentence as Barack Obama.

And during the Republican primary campaign, Newt Gingrich was routinely referred to as Mr. Speaker – even though he was the Speaker of the House for four years and left that post nearly 14 years ago.

As odd as it sounds to hear “Presidents Clinton and Obama” from a news presenter’s mouth, the perma-title is acceptable, traditional and appropriate, says Daniel Post Senning, author and spokesman for etiquette arbiter Emily Post Institute.

“It really shows the esteem that we hold those offices in – that this is a democracy, and those are such important positions that it becomes like a professional title,” he says.

“I liken it to when a judge or a doctor retires. They’ve invested a lot in their professional identity and many retain the use of their professional title.”

6. Election loser can still win the White House

Four times in American history, the candidate with fewer votes has wound up with the presidency.

That is because the winner of the presidential election needs to capture a majority of electoral votes, which are apportioned to the states by population and for the most part awarded in winner-take-all state contests.

The national presidential election is effectively 51 separate contests (50 states and Washington DC), with the winner of 270 electoral votes taking the presidency.

Most recently, in 2000 George Bush won half a million votes less than Al Gore but took 271 electoral votes for the victory.

It is entirely conceivable that the person sworn into the White House in January will once again be the man with fewer votes.

One scenario envisioned by analysts – Barack Obama could piece together enough states to win the electoral college and hence the presidency, while Mitt Romney wins populous conservative states like Texas and Georgia by a wide enough margin to take the national popular vote.

7. It could be a dead-heat – with a President Mitt Romney and VP Joe Biden

American politics is at its most partisan and polarized in more than a century, many analysts say. But it could get much, much worse – Mitt Romney could be elected president and Joe Biden re-elected vice-president.

Under the US constitution, if the electoral college (the sum of delegates from each state – 270 and you’re president) ends in a tie – and there are several scenarios under which this could occur – the election is sent to the 435-member House of Representatives.

This is currently Republican-controlled and is unlikely to change hands, so they would choose Mitt Romney.

But under the same clause, the Democrat-led Senate would choose the vice-president – Joe Biden.

Joe Biden might then be tempted to undermine Mitt Romney at every turn.

“A historic tie, which would spur demonstrations that would make the healthcare battle look like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, seems a logical conclusion of the bitter partisan paralysis here and the bottom-feeding campaign,” wrote New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on Tuesday.

8. Why the obsession with “folks”?

“Folks here in Iowa understand this – you cannot grow this economy from the top down”- Barack Obama, 17 October.

“I know that a lot of folks are struggling” – Mitt Romney, 10 October

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney use the word “folks” far more often than the word is typically heard from the lips of men with their socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

The word, which finds its origins in the Old English, is in the US historically associated with the South. That’s a stereotypically less-pretentious region that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney are from.

The word used as such is roughly the same as “people”, but warmer and more inclusive, says Grant Barrett, editor of the Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang.

“American politics is a southerner’s game,” says Grant Barrett.

“It’s a talker’s game and Southerners are talkers. At the national level we have often been dominated by Southerners.”

9. Only a third of the US matters

On 6 November, the election will effectively be decided by less than a third of the US population.

Most of the states in America, including four of the five most populous, are so solid in their support for the Republicans or the Democrats that the candidates do not bother campaigning there.

Instead, each side chalks up those safe states in their tally and fights over the remaining handful of swing states on their path to 270 electoral votes.

The election is thus decided by the roughly 30% of the US population which lives in the swing states.

For the 70% of Americans who live in California, Texas, Georgia, New York, Illinois and the 35 other safe states, their votes count toward the electoral college total, but they cannot be said to be relevant in deciding the election.

10. In North Dakota, you can vote without registering to vote

The only state where it is not necessary to register in order to vote is North Dakota.

Although it was one of the first states to adopt voter registration in the 19th Century, it abolished it in 1951. The North Dakota State Government website says the move can be explained by the state’s close-knit, rural communities.

“North Dakota’s system of voting, and lack of voter registration, is rooted in its rural character by providing small precincts.

“Establishing relatively small precincts is intended to ensure that election boards know the voters who come to the polls to vote on Election Day and can easily detect those who should not be voting in the precinct.”

People coming to vote must be US citizens over the age of 18, who have lived in the precinct for at least 30 days, says Al Jaeger, the North Dakota Secretary of State. And people still need to produce identification, if they are not known to officials.

“I don’t see any difference with any other states, except that we don’t have voter registration, but it’s the same result. It might be an oddity but it has the same purpose. Our elections have a great deal of integrity.”



President Barack Obama is to resume election campaign which was suspended in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Barack Obama visited areas of New Jersey struck by the storm on Wednesday.

His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, has been holding rallies after halting his campaign earlier in the week.

Superstorm Sandy left at least 64 people dead in the US, cut power from millions of homes and paralyzed transport on much of the eastern US seaboard.

The hurricane made landfall on Monday night in New Jersey, where some 20,000 people remain trapped in their homes by sewage-contaminated floodwater.

In New York City, the storm brought a record tidal surge that swamped the subway system and caused widespread blackouts.

Earlier, it killed nearly 70 people in the Caribbean and caused extensive crop destruction in impoverished Haiti.

Barack Obama has planned campaign stops on Thursday in Nevada, Colorado and Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, he toured parts of New Jersey struck by the storm with Republican Governor Chris Christie.

“You guys are in my thoughts and prayers,” the president said during a visit to an emergency shelter in Atlantic City.

“We are going to be here for the long haul.”

Barack Obama toured parts of New Jersey struck by the storm with Republican Governor Chris Christie

Barack Obama toured parts of New Jersey struck by the storm with Republican Governor Chris Christie

Of more than six million homes and businesses across the north-east that still have no electricity, a third of them are in New Jersey.

In the New Jersey city of Hoboken, across the Hudson River from New York City, the National Guard has arrived to evacuate about 20,000 people and distribute meals.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, usually one of barack Obama’s fiercest critics, spoke of his “great working relationship” with the Democratic president.

“I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for the people of our state,” said Chris Christie.

Mitt Romney held two rallies in Florida on Wednesday, where his campaign said he tried to strike a “positive tone”.

Election Day is on 6 November, and polls suggest the candidates are running neck and neck.

Eight out of ten voters in a Washington Post/ABC poll gave Barack Obama an “excellent” or “good” rating for his handling of the emergency.

New York began a slow recovery from the storm on Wednesday.

The New York Stock Exchange reopened on generator power after two days of closure, along with the Nasdaq.

But New York City’s Bellevue Hospital had to order the evacuation of some 500 patients after back-up electricity failed.

A partial subway service is due to begin on Thursday. Many bus services are already back on the roads, and most of the city’s bridges have reopened.

The Holland Tunnel, connecting New Jersey and New York City, remains flooded.

Flights have now resumed at JFK and Newark Liberty airports, though the city’s LaGuardia airport remains closed. Nearly 20,000 flights were grounded by Sandy.

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One week before a close election, Superstorm Sandy has confounded the presidential race, halted early voting in many areas and led some to ponder whether the election might even be postponed.

It could take days to restore electricity to more than 8 million homes and businesses that lost power when the storm pummeled the East Coast – leading experts to question whether the election can be put back from November 6th.

While the answer is of course yes in theory, the probability of the choice between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama being postponed is unlikely despite the devastating effect Hurricane Sandy had on 60 million people across the north-east, or one-sixth of the population.

But as the storm left its trail of destruction behind, even some of those intimately involved in the election seemed in the dark about what options are available to cope with the storm.

Asked Monday whether President Barack Obama had the power to reschedule the election, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he wasn’t sure.

However, constitutionally, the President doesn’t set the date for the election, Congress does.

Congress could act within the next week to change the date, but that would be tough because lawmakers are on recess and back home in their districts campaigning for re-election.

Plus, it’s likely that would mean changing the date for the entire country, not just those affected by the storm.

What’s more, Congress only selects the date for federal elections, so changing the date would wreak havoc for state and local elections also scheduled for November 6th.

Election Day could be postponed due to Hurricane Sandy

Election Day could be postponed due to Hurricane Sandy

“For those states that don’t already have an election emergency process in place, any departure from the established election process could easily give rise to court challenges about the legitimacy of the election,” said Steven Huefner, professor at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law to ABC News.

“Even states with an emergency plan might find themselves facing litigation over specific ways in which they’ve implemented their emergency plan.”

Some have asked if it is likely for the election to go ahead but to allow New Jersey and New York to vote at a different time afterwards.

That is possible, but the legal issues get tricky. States, by and large, are in charge of their own elections.

Each state has its own laws dealing with what to do if an emergency jeopardizes voting and who can make the call.

Federal law says that if a state fails to conduct an election for federal races on the day Congress chooses, the state legislature can pick a later date.

Nevertheless, experts told ABC News that even minor contingency arrangements, like keeping polls open longer in some precincts or moving polling locations, will probably lead to legal challenges and more provisional voting, which can delay election results.

But state and federal laws don’t always jive perfectly. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has said his state’s laws don’t grant him authority to reschedule the presidential election.

Despite no presidential election ever being postponed, some are pointing to past precedents where voting has been delayed.

New York City was holding its mayoral primary when terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, and the city rescheduled the election.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana’s governor postponed municipal elections in New Orleans after elections officials said polling places wouldn’t be ready.

However, what is most likely is a compromise for those affected by the havoc caused by the storm.

Voting hours could be extended at various locations and in places where electronic voting machines are in use, paper ballots could be used instead.

Some areas also might choose to move polling locations if existing ones are damaged, inaccessible or won’t have power on Election Day.

But even amending Election Day to accommodate the affected would create problems in themselves.

If poll hours are extended, under a 2002 law passed by Congress in response to the disputed 2000 presidential election, any voters who show up outside of regular hours must use provisional ballots, which are counted later and could be challenged.

Hurricane Sandy’s impact was felt in some of the most competitive states in the presidential race, including Virginia and Ohio.

The more provisional ballots that are cast, the greater the chances are that the winner won’t be known until days or even weeks after the election.

There’s another issue if poll hours are extended in some areas – such as counties with the worst storm damage – and not in others.

That could prompt lawsuits under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, said Edward Foley, an election law expert at The Ohio State University.

Relocating polling places is also risky because it could drive down turnout, said Neil Malhotra, a political economist at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

“If you disrupt their routine and the polling place they’ve always been going to, even if you don’t move it very far, they vote less,” he said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s administrator, Craig Fugate, said Monday he anticipated the storm’s impact could linger into next week and affect the election.

He said FEMA would look at what support it could provide to states before the election.

“This will be led by the states,” Craig Fugate said.


According to a new poll released last night, Republican Mitt Romney is winning the White House race among Americans who have already voted.

Mitt Romney has opened up a seven point lead among the 15% who have cast their votes early.

Pollster Gallup says Mitt Romney has more ballots in the bank than President Barack Obama by a margin of 52% to 45%.

As many as a third of Americans are likely to go to the polls before Election Day on November 6.

Gallup still has the two candidates in a dead heat at 49% among likely voters as the race enters its final week.

With Hurricane Sandy throwing both men’s campaigns into chaos, the early voters could prove to be even more crucial in the final outcome than in previous years.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both called off rallies yesterday as Hurricane Sandy bore down on East Coast.

The president cancelled a planned appearance in Orlando, Florida to return to Washington and monitor the weather crisis. He also shelved a trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin scheduled for Tuesday.

Mitt Romney followed suit, pulling out of all campaigning yesterday evening and throughout Tuesday, along with his running mate Paul Ryan.

According to a new poll released last night, Republican Mitt Romney is winning the White House race among Americans who have already voted

According to a new poll released last night, Republican Mitt Romney is winning the White House race among Americans who have already voted

Damage from the storm is projected at around $18 billion and Barack Obama has declared it a “major disaster”.

But neither rival could afford to totally shut down operations. The political barbs continued in campaign ads and between aides trying to show the upper hand in a race as tight as ever.

At a White House press conference on Monday Barack Obama dismissed a question about how the hurricane will affect the election, saying: “I’m not worried about the impact on the election. The election will take care of itself next week.”

At a campaign event in Iowa, Michelle Obama said of her husband: “He has made this storm his priority, and he is going to do whatever it takes to make sure the American people are safe and secure.”

Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said his state plans to extend early voting hours and restore power quickly to election facilities in the event of outages.

Officials in neighboring Maryland said early voting stations were closed yesterday.

Officials from both campaigns said they were confident they would be able to get their message out and drive voters to the polls over the coming days. But they recognized that, after years of obsessive planning and nearly $2 billion in campaign expenditures, the storm had introduced a last-minute element of chaos.

“There’s certain things we can’t control and nature is one of them. We try to focus on the things that we can control,” said Mitt Romney adviser Kevin Madden.

There is some evidence that natural disasters can hurt an incumbent’s re-election chances as voters often blame whoever is in office for adversity.


President Barack Obama has warned Americans to take Hurricane Sandy seriously as authorities started shutting down the eastern seaboard ahead of its arrival.

Several states have declared emergencies, with tens of millions of people affected as schools are closed and transport services suspended.

Experts fear Hurricane Sandy may become a super-storm when it makes landfall later.

Some election rallies have been called off, with Barack Obama warning affected citizens to take precautions.

International travel has been badly affected. Air France, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic grounded Monday’s transatlantic flights to and from East Coast cities, including New York, Baltimore, Newark, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia.

At 02:00 EDT, the storm was turning north, its eye swirling about 425 miles (760 km) south-east of New York City, according to the National Hurricane Center.

With winds of 75 mph, Hurricane Sandy, dubbed “Frankenstorm”or “Superstorm”, is expected to bring a “life-threatening” surge flood to the mid-Atlantic coast, including Long Island Sound and New York Harbour.

The winds are expected to strengthen when Hurricane Sandy makes landfall anywhere between Virginia and southern New England on Monday.

The prospect of merging with a wintry storm coming from the west during a full moon has many fearing dangerous high tides.

Sandy is some 520 miles (835 km) across. It is also very slow, moving north-east at just 15 mph, and could linger over as many as 12 states for 24-36 hours, bringing up to 25 cm of rain, 60 cm of snow, extreme storm surges and power cuts.

States of emergency have been declared in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC and parts of North Carolina.

The two presidential election contenders have modified their campaign engagements, with Mitt Romney pulling out of an event in Virginia and Barack Obama cancelling rallies in Virginia and Colorado.

The president has pulled out of a Monday event in Ohio – considered a key swing state – in order to return to Washington to monitor the storm – although he is still set to attend a rally with former President Bill Clinton in Florida earlier on Monday.

Visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington on Sunday, Barack Obama vowed his government would “respond big and respond fast” after Hurricane Sandy had passed.

Con Edison workers prepare for Hurricane Sandy using sandbags to cover up power vaults in New York

Con Edison workers prepare for Hurricane Sandy using sandbags to cover up power vaults in New York

Amtrak has started suspending passenger train services across the north-eastern US and air travel has been badly hit, with some 6,800 flights cancelled.

New York City’s subway, bus and train services were suspended from 19:00 on Sunday, and schools will be shut on Monday.

With predicted storm surges of up to 11 ft, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered 375,000 people in the city’s vulnerable low-lying areas to leave their homes.

Evacuation shelters have been set up at 76 public schools.

“If you don’t evacuate you’re not just putting your own life in danger, you are also endangering lives of our first responders who would have to rescue you,” he said.

The Statue of Liberty was reopened on Sunday after a year of renovation, but only a group of army cadets got a tour before it was shut again until at least Wednesday.

Some 200 National Guardsmen will patrol Manhattan and 300 more will be deployed in Long Island.

The New York Stock Exchange will be fully closed on Monday, its operator said, and possibly on Tuesday as well.

It had earlier said electronic transactions would be possible but on Sunday announced it was closing fully because “the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities”.

Similar precautions were taken last year as Hurricane Irene approached the East Coast. It killed more than 40 people from North Carolina to Maine and caused an estimated $10 billion worth of damage.

FEMA has warned that the threat extends well inland, and has issued safety tips on how to cope with the hurricane.

Blustery winds were already being felt in New York on Sunday night and the anxiety felt on the streets indicated that residents were taking city orders seriously and with haste.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie confirmed a swathe of mandatory evacuations, told civil servants to stay at home on Monday and said the casinos in Atlantic City had closed.

“The weather will turn ugly [on Monday] and we want everyone off the roads,” he said.

“Don’t be stupid. Get out. Don’t try to be a hero and act as if nothing is going on here.”

New Jersey authorities expect very significant flooding, with three increasingly high tides on Monday, possibly creating surges of 13-14 ft – the worst since 1903, authorities said.

Hurricane Sandy has already killed 60 people in the Caribbean during the past week.


• New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced service on subways will be curtailed beginning at 7:00 p.m.

• The bus network will cease to operate at 9:00 p.m.

• Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will start their finals trains by 7:00 p.m. from terminal locations

• Stations will close once the last trains pass through

• New Jersey has suspended all services from 4 p.m. Sunday until 2 a.m. Monday

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Hurricane Sandy is swirling towards the US East Coast, forcing presidential candidates to adjust schedules and cancel events.

President Barack Obama has held a conference call with emergency chiefs to discuss preparations for the storm, which could hit as early as Monday.

Its sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h) are set to intensify as it merges with a wintry storm from the western US.

A number of states key to the election could be hit by a storm that may affect up to 60 million Americans.

At 20:00 EDT, the eye of the storm was about 330 miles south of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said: “This is not a coastal threat alone. This is a very large area.”

Hurricane Sandy has already killed 60 people in the Caribbean as it swirled north during the past week.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney cancelled an event scheduled for Sunday in Virginia, a key election state, because of the weather, and was instead heading to Ohio.

Barack Obama will head to Florida on Sunday rather than Monday, and has cancelled a campaign stop with former President Bill Clinton in Virginia on Monday and a rally in Colorado on Tuesday to monitor the storm from the White House, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Vice-President Joe Biden also cancelled a rally in coastal Virginia to allow for disaster preparations.

Early balloting in Maryland saw lines of voters stretching for a number of blocks at some polling stations on Saturday.

But despite concerns about Hurricane Sandy’s impact, with some polls suggesting the contest is a virtual dead heat, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama pressed ahead with campaigning in key swing states on Saturday.

Nine states are thought to be too close to call.

In New Hampshire, Barack Obama urged his supporters to encourage people to vote early and allow him to finish the job he started.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but New Hampshire and the country has come too far to go back to the policies that got us into this mess,” he said.

“All he’s offering is a big rerun of the same policies,” Barack Obama said of his opponent.

In Florida, Mitt Romney said he stood for “big ideas” that would get America going again, compared to what he called Barack Obama’s “shrinking agenda”.

“The president doesn’t have a plan, he’s out of ideas, he’s out of excuses and this November, Florida is going to make sure we put him out of office,” Mitt Romney said to cheers from the conservative crowd in Pensacola.

New Jersey people board up their homes in preparation for Hurricane Sandy

New Jersey people board up their homes in preparation for Hurricane Sandy

How Barack Obama handles the weather emergency and how far Mitt Romney tries to make political capital out of it could enhance or harm their chances.

While the East Coast is used to extreme weather, Hurricane Sandy is concerning meteorologists who fear it could mutate into a “Frankenstorm” as it merges with a winter storm in the run-up to Halloween.

It is only moving north-east at 13 mph, meaning it could hover for 36 hours over as many as 12 states, bringing up to 10 in (25 cm) of rain, 2 ft of snow, extreme storm surges and power cuts.

States of emergency have been declared in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC and a coastal county in North Carolina.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect in both South and North Carolina, as well as Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

The NHC said further strengthening was possible on Sunday, before Sandy touched down anywhere between Virginia and southern New England late on Monday.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie pleaded with residents not to be complacent.

“I know everyone’s saying this isn’t going to happen… that the weathermen always get it wrong,” he said.

He urged people to stock up on essentials in case they were trapped at home for a few days.

“We have to be prepared for the worst here. I can be as cynical as any of you but when the storm comes, if it’s as bad as they’re predicting it will be, you’re gonna wish you weren’t as cynical as you might otherwise have been.”

Delaware has ordered a mandatory evacuation of 50,000 people from coastal areas.

New York has not yet ordered evacuations.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “This is a dangerous storm. But I think we’re going to be OK.”

Earlier in the week, Hurricane Sandy caused havoc as it ploughed across the Caribbean, killing at least 44 people in Haiti, 11 in Cuba and four more in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

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When President Barack Obama flew to Chicago to cast his vote early in Chicago on Thursday, he became one of over 8 million Americans to have already made their decision for the November election.

And now with the election just ten days away, early results from those polls are giving both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney cause to claim victory – despite neither campaign having established a distinct advantage.

In encouraging results, Barack Obama appears to be matching his 2008 presidential victory totals across the country, but Mitt Romney is exceeding Senator John McCain’s efforts and appears to be already ahead in key state Florida.

Early voting results released so far show success in Florida for Mitt Romney but encouragement for Barack Obama in North Carolina

Early voting results released so far show success in Florida for Mitt Romney but encouragement for Barack Obama in North Carolina

Colorado: 325,810 votes have been cast so far – 126,539 from Republicans and 120,965 from Democrats and 75,030 from unaffiliated voters

Florida: 925,604 votes as mail-in-absentee ballots have been cast – 414,016 from Republicans and 363,881 from Democrats. In person early voting begins today in the Sunshine State

Iowa: 399 ballots have been cast – 183,780 for Democrats and 126,872 from Republicans. In this key state in 2008, Democrats had a 24-percent point lead and this year that lead is eight percent.

Nevada: 218, 616 votes have been cast so far – 101,935 for Republicans and 79,059 for Democrats

Ohio: 808,051 ballots have been cast so far in Ohio – but party affiliation is not revealed

Virginia: 247,862 votes have been cast so far in Virginia which does not reveal party affiliation

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The US economy grew more than expected in the third quarter, official figures showed.

The world’s largest economy expanded at an annualized rate of 2% in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said.

The jump was partly due to a large increase in government spending.

The figures are one of the last pieces of important economic data before the US presidential election between Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney on 6 November.

Federal government expenditures and gross investment increased 9.6% compared with the previous quarter, while national defence spending rose by 13%. The Commerce Department said there was a jump in personal consumption as well.

A drought in the US, which was the worst for 50 years, cut farm output and took 0.4 percentage points off the GDP figures, the Commerce Department said.

With more than 20 million Americans unemployed and a huge public deficit, the economy has become one of the central issues of the campaign.

The US has now been growing for more than three years, since June 2009.

“While we have more work to do, together with other economic indicators, this report provides further evidence that the economy is moving in the right direction,” said Alan Krueger, chairman of PresidentBarack  Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

But the Romney camp was not impressed.

“Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay,” Mitt Romney said in a statement.

“This is what four years of President Obama’s policies have produced.”

Speaking at a rally on Friday in the state of Iowa he said the growth figure was disappointing and that he could do better.

Mitt Romney has repeatedly challenged President Barack Obama’s record, saying ”we have not made the progress we need to make”.

“If the president were re-elected, we’d go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece,” Mitt Romney said during the second presidential debate.

Barack Obama replied that his opponent did not have a five-point plan to fix the economy, but ”a one-point plan”.

Last month, the US unemployment rate fell to 7.8%, down from 8.1%, its lowest since January 2009 when Barack Obama’s term in office began.

Nigel Gault, chief US economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “There is prospect that we could do better next year if we could clear up some of the uncertainties, particularly the fiscal cliff.

“A lot of the ingredients for stronger growth are falling into place, particularly the gradual easing of credit conditions and the improvement in the housing market.”

The “fiscal cliff” refers to automatic tax hikes and government spending cuts that were agreed by Democrats and Republicans during the last budget face-off. They will drain about $600 billion out of the economy next year, possibly plunging the US economy into unless action is taken by Congress.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial research firm Markit, said there was no certainty that this pace of growth would be maintained: “It remains too early to tell whether growth will accelerate or slow in the fourth quarter.

“However, it seems unlikely that the consumer mood will continue to brighten if not supported by evidence that the corporate sector is also seeing stronger growth, suggesting there are downside risks and the GDP growth rate could slow from the third quarter’s 2% pace.”

To help get the US economy back on track, the US Federal Reserve in September restarted its policy of pumping money into the economy via quantitative easing. The Fed pledged to buy $40bn of mortgage debt a month, with the aim of reducing long-term borrowing costs for firms and households.

“Growth was fairly resilient,” said Christopher Vecchio, a currency analyst at DailyFX, but “nevertheless, this is still not the stable recovery the Federal Reserve is looking for”.

Recent housing data has also shown some encouraging signs of recovery, analysts say.

Sales of existing homes and housing construction have picked up and the main home price index has risen consecutively for three months.

House prices have rebounded in some areas, while mortgage rates are expected to stay at record lows because of low interest rates.

The Fed has vowed to keep rates at the current levels of close to zero until 2015.

The economy grew by 1.3% in the previous quarter. The US states its growth in annualized terms, meaning that its quarterly growth rate is extrapolated as if it was growing at that pace for the whole year.

Figures for the eurozone have not yet been released but Germany is expecting a “noticeable expansion” and debt-ridden nations like Spain and Greece will likely have shrunk again.

China, the world’s second-biggest economy, also uses an annualized rate of growth. It expanded 7.4% in the third quarter.


President Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney are on track to raise more than $2 billion by Election Day – making it by far the most costly presidential race in history.

By November 6, both candidates will have each passed the $1 billion barrier in donations.

Barack Obama is already there, according to financial disclosures filed yesterday. The president and his Democrat Party have tallied up about $1.06 billion while Mitt Romney and the Republicans have collected $954 million since the turn of the year.

By comparison, Barack Obama raised a total of $750 for his successful 2008 campaign and his opponent, John McCain, raised just $130 million, which included a government grant for more than two-thirds of the total.

The sources of the money underline the difference between the two rivals and the kind of support they are attracting.

Wall Street has invested more heavily in Mitt Romney than any White House candidate in memory, according to the New York Times, which obtained the disclosures last night. Employees of financial firms have given more than $18 million to the ex-financier’s campaign.

They have also donated hundreds of millions more to so-called “super PACS” – groups working independently of the official campaigns that often provide cash for adverts backing their chosen candidates. The super PAC cash is not included in the campaign totals.

Doctors, insurance companies, accounting and property firms are all turning more to the Republican hopeful than they did four years ago.

Barack Obama has set his sights more on Silicon Valley and it has clearly paid off with technology executives donating $14 million to his coffers, much more than last time around.

Retirees – the biggest source of money for both sides – as well of employees of retailers, hospitals, nursing homes and women’s groups have all sided in bigger numbers with the Democrat incumbent.

Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney are on track to raise more than $2 billion by Election Day

Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney are on track to raise more than $2 billion by Election Day

Like in 2008, the vast majority of Barack Obama’s money came in small donations – 55% of his donations came in amounts of less than $200. Just 13% of his cheques were for $2,500, the maximum amount donors are allowed to give as individuals.

The Obama campaign has received donations from 4.2 million people, about a million more than in 2008.

By contrast, Mitt Romney has profited from support from big business donors. Just 22% of his cash came from people donating less than $200 while 45% was for the $2,500 maximum.

Of the super PACS, Mitt Romney was by far the biggest winner. Groups aligned with Mitt Romney have spent $302 million on campaign advertising, compared with about $120 million for groups supporting Barack Obama.

Wrapping up a 40-hour battleground state blitz yesterday, Barack Obama headed to his hometown of Chicago and cast his ballot 12 days before Election Day.

The stopover was more than a photo opportunity – it was a high-profile attempt to boost turnout in early voting, a centerpiece of the president’s strategy

Michael Toner, a Republican campaign finance lawyer and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said the close race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and the sharply polarized electorate have also played a role in accelerating the dash for dollars.

“I don’t know any campaign manager who thinks they have too much money. In this political 50-50 environment you can’t ever have enough,” Michael Toner said.

“Every last million could make the difference in who is elected.”

But the emergence of super PACs and other outside groups, emboldened partly by the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010, has done more than anything else to reshape the contours of presidential campaign fundraising.

A handful of federal court cases have broadly eased campaign finance regulations, allowing donors to give unlimited sums. That kind of money has largely been funneled to super PACs, which can raise and spend money on behalf of candidates as long as they don’t coordinate expenditures or strategy with the campaign.

“The distinctive factor in this election is the outside money being spent and the corrupting money financing it,” said Fred Wertheimer, a longtime campaign finance reform advocate.

“It’s a symbol of the disastrous campaign finance system we have and the undue influence relatively few well-financed individuals and interest groups now have over government decisions.”

Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is the top super PAC donor this year. Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire, has contributed more than $40 million to Republican super PACs, including those backing Mitt Romney and former candidate and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.


The much-hyped release of Mitt Romney’s testimony in the divorce of the former Staples CEO this afternoon has failed to deliver the October Surprise knock-out blow to Romney’s campaign, as promised by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred.

Mitt Romney said during the 1991 hearings that in Staples’ early days, its initial stores performed “far behind our expectations”. He said friends told him that Staples was “a hard place to shop” and employees were “surly”.

However, during his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has described Staples as a “great American success story” and has taken credit for its growth to a mega-firm employing nearly 90,000 workers.

Tom Stemberg was one of the speakers who praised Mitt Romney last August at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

The transcripts of his evidence run to more than 300 pages of complicated financial questioning and will surely be scrutinized in the next few days. Yet there is apparently nothing to damn the Republican rival, or instantly back up the claims of Gloria Allred or the ex-wife of Staples founder, Tom Stemberg, that Mitt Romney gave misleading evidence to ensure she could not win a better settlement.

Under a plan approved by Mitt Romney and other board members in 1988, Maureen Sullivan Stemberg was given 500,000 shares of Staples common stock, then awarded a special “D” class of stock in exchange for those shares. Maureen Sullivan Stemberg sold about half of the shares only to learn that those sold holdings would have been valued higher in a 1989 public offering of Staples stock.

In testimony Mitt Romney said he backed the deal to give Tom Stemberg’s wife a special class of stock “as a favor to Tom. It was something that was done in my opinion, it was initiated as a favor. Tom needed to have a settlement with his wife so that was the genesis of it”.

But Mitt Romney insisted the board’s decision was made “in the best interests of the company’s shareholders”.

Gloria Allred's October Surprise fails to deliver killer blow to Mitt Romney

Gloria Allred’s October Surprise fails to deliver killer blow to Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney acknowledged at the time that there were no other cases in which a separate class of securities was created for the benefit of one individual. He also said that as an investor through Bain, he had never seen that kind of a device used before.

At first, his venture capital firm Bain, an early investor in Staples, was so underwhelmed by the firm’s performance that it did not plough as much money into the firm as it could have.

Mitt Romney said the initial investment in Staples was $1.5 million and valued the shares at $1.50 to $2 right up until early 1988. The court noted Maureen Sullivan Stemberg negotiated a sale of her shares at $2.25 to $2.48.

“In my opinion that’s a good price to sell the securities at,” Mitt Romney said, according to the transcript.

And, at the end of his three days of testimony, Mitt Romney was asked about his own chance to buy Staples stock before the float – and whether he bought the entire amount he was allowed to.

Crucially Mitt Romney said he did not as he believed there was a chance the company could fail.

A source told the Washington Examiner: “This disproves the Allred allegation completely. He put his money where his mouth was.”

The documents do, however, reveal the close relationship of Tom Stemberg and Mitt Romney, who testifies that he had lunch with the Staples CEO on the day of the hearing.

Mitt Romney added that he doubted the future success of the office supply stores and only created one class of shares as a “favor” to Tom Stemberg because he “needed a settlement with his wife”.

The testimony was unsealed in a Canton, Massachusetts court on Thursday after attorneys – including for Tom Stemberg and Mitt Romney – did not object to their release.



Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, has been one part of a travelling trio during her campaign trail in Florida this week.

Campaigning for Mitt Romney on a bus tour through the swing state, which is expected to play a key role in the upcoming presidential election, the 63-year-old was accompanied by her two grandsons, 6-year-old Parker and 4-year-old Miles.

Ann Romney tweeted: “Love having Parker and Miles with me on our bus tour. Here’s a pic of us having some fun on the @RomneyBus.”

As the matriarch of a family of 30, Ann Romney also appeared on an episode of The Rachel Ray Show earlier today, giving away her mass-shopping secrets.

She watched the show with both of her grandsons from their hotel suite in Florida, the boys relishing seeing their grandmother on the small screen.

On the show, Ann Romney revealed that for roughly $137.50, she says she can feed her five sons as well as their families, a total of 30 people, for just $4.50 a head.

Ann Romney credits this budget shopping-list to Costco, where she admitted she “always starts at”.

While filling a shopping cart up with spinach, raspberries, frozen cream puffs and the family’s staple, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, Ann Romney said: “The great thing about frozen desserts, they’re always ready to go.”

She added: “Wholesale shops are big, you have to go with a game plan before you start.

“There are great deals on fresh produce… My other favorite thing, I have to say, is I never leave without raspberries and blueberries.”

Ann Romney is campaigning for her husband on a bus tour through the swing state with her two grandsons, Parker and Miles

Ann Romney is campaigning for her husband on a bus tour through the swing state with her two grandsons, Parker and Miles

Ann Romney added: “And with frozen cream puffs, you can personalize them by adding chocolate sauce and ice-cream.”

She also spoke about suffering from multiple sclerosis while raising a family.

Ann Romney said: “When I was first diagnosed with MS and my husband was taking care of me, he discovered rotisserie chicken.”

“Rotisserie chicken is every cooks best friend,” she said.

“You want to buy it at the end of your shopping so it doesn’t heat up the food that’s in the rest of your basket.”

The Romney’s buffet-style family dinners often consist of home-made creamed spinach, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, honey-mustard dipping sauce, roasted butternut squash, frozen cream puffs with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

While also preparing Mitt Romney’s favorite dish, meatloaf cakes, on the show, she said: “Mitt is not a picky eater. He will eat anything you put in front of him.”

This isn’t the first time Ann Romney has endorsed Costco.

In August this year, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked the Romneys about hearing that they have an “unhealthy attraction” to Costco.

“We both love Costco,” said Ann Romney.

“It’s got great produce,” agreed the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate.

“She also got me one of these three-packs of shirts the other day from Costco. And they’re very nice shirts,” he added.

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Donald Trump has made his first public appearance since “huge announcement” as a guest on the Late Show With David Letterman to further explain the offer which turned out to be a $5 million charity donation in exchange for Barack Obama’s old college and passport records.

When asked by David Letterman why he was orchestrating the demand, Donald Trump replied: “Transparency.”

He added: “There’s too much we don’t know about our president.”

When David Letterman asked what kind of damning evidence would be revealed by college records, Donald Trump said: “A line saying place of birth” – an apparent indication that Trump still may not believe the president was born in the U.S., despite Barack Obama’s release of his birth certificate last year.

“I hope everything [in Obama’s records] is perfect – and it might be.”

“If it was negative – there wouldn’t be an election.”

On the subject of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, Donald Trump said that it took Obama six years to provide it, when “I could give it to you in less than an hour.”

As the audience applauded, Donald Trump raised his hands, relishing in the moment on the late night stage.

But David Letterman ordered the crowd to stop clapping, saying “the breeze will disturb [Trump’s] hair”.

Moving along, Donald Trump said that what he likes most about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is his stance on China before showing off his shirt and tie line currently being sold at Macy’s stores.

But as David Letterman quickly revealed, the ties were made in China.

Donald Trump has made his first public appearance since huge announcement on the Late Show With David Letterman

Donald Trump has made his first public appearance since huge announcement on the Late Show With David Letterman

Hours earlier, Donald Trump has received an counter-offer to his “bordering-on-gigantic” news about the President.

Donald Trump had hyped his “big reveal” for several days on major news outlets while incessantly tweeting about his “game changer” information in the final weeks before the election.

Political satirist Stephen Colbert has now ramped up the stakes for the Apprentice star by offering Donald Trump a donation to a charity of his choice – with rather more x-rated consequences.

On his Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, the sarcastic host told the audience: “Mr. Trump, I will write you a cheque to the charity of your choice for $1million…. if you will let me dip my balls in your mouth.”

Stephen Colbert added: “Nothing would make me happier than to write this cheque… and nothing would make America happier than something going into your mouth instead of coming out of it.”

Donald Trump had yet to respond to Stephen Colbert’s offer which the comic set for “5:00 p.m. on October 31” – the same deadline that Trump gave Barack Obama.

The billionaire made his YouTube offer on Wednesday at noon, promising to donate $5 million to a charity of Barack Obama’s choice if he revealed the information.

Donald Trump denied his elaborate staging was a publicity stunt, insisting this was “not a media event”, but instead is “about the United States of America”.

Stephen Colbert, who is left-leaning, was far from the only public figure to mock the billionaire businessman.

Broadcaster Barbara Walters scolded her “friend” on The View today saying: “Donald, you’re not hurting Obama, you’re hurting Donald, and that hurts me because you’re a decent man.”

Donald Trump was characteristically unrepentant today, returning to Twitter to directly respond: “@BarbaraJWalters @theviewtv – Why did you choose me as one of the 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year last season (and more than once?)”

The Internet exploded yesterday with mock responses to Donald Trump’s announcement.

Comedian Andy Borowitz tweeted: “Attention parents: if you give your children even the tiniest bit of attention now, maybe they won’t grow up to be Donald Trump.”

Observers on the right also slated Donald Trump, who has publicly endorsed Republican Mitt Romney.

Jim Geraghty of the conservative National Review, wrote: “If at any point you seriously considered Donald Trump for president, please study the error of your ways in quiet, private contemplation.”

However there was support for Donald Trump’s actions with those echoing his call for most transparency from the President including conservative talk show host Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter.

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Four years after he was elected as a self-described “hopemonger” promising a new post-partisan era, President Barack Obama is trying to claw his way to re-election with an ugly, divisive campaign in which he is playing the role of fearmonger-in-chief.

On a chilling Wednesday evening in a Las Vegas park, Barack Obama spoke to a raucous gathering of some 13,000 – more than twice the number his opponent Mitt Romney had attracted a few days earlier but a far cry from the crowds of 2008 when he was swept into office with a seven-point victory over Senator John McCain.

With his own star power fading somewhat, Barack Obama had enlisted the help of teen heartthrob Katy Perry to sing before he appeared. Resplendent in a black-and-white latex dress emblazoned with a ballot paper, she delivered five of her pop hits to screams and squeals from the younger attendees.

When Barack Obama finally took to the stage, he began with light-hearted quips about Katy Perry’s 91-year-old grandmother getting lipstick on his cheek and nearly getting him in hot water with his wife Michele.

“I’m just telling you – you might get me in trouble!”

Right on cue, and just like 2008, a woman shouted out: “We love you, Obama!”

He responded, just as he always has: “I love you back!”

But the mood quickly darkened and it was at this point that any comparisons with 2008 evaporated. Barack Obama – who was reading his remarks from two teleprompters flanking the stage – launched into a exhaustive and exhausting diatribe about Mitt Romney.

There was all the standard stump stuff about “Romnesia” – a term dreamt up in the bowels of the Left-wing blogosphere and adopted by the Obama campaign this month as part of its closing argument in this election.

The word is a cute enough campaign term, though perhaps not quite something you would expect from a President of the United States who has been hailed for the world historical significance and beauty of his rhetoric.

Certainly, Mitt Romney is rightly vulnerable on the issue of shifting policy positions. But “Romnesia”, as Barack Obama aides have made clear, is about saying that Mitt Romney cannot be trusted. It’s about calling the former Massachusetts governor a liar.

That’s standard-fare political hardball. But then Barack Obama went a step further. After describing himself as “steady and strong” – words used by his apparatchiks in the post-debate spin room in Florida on Monday – he told the crowd that a vote for Mitt Romney would plunge Americans back to the early 1960s.

“You can choose to turn the clock back 50 years for women and immigrants and gays,” he said.

“Or in this election you can stand up for the principle that America includes everybody. We’re all created equal – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, abled, disabled – no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from or who you love, in America you can make it if you try.”

Leave aside for a moment that 50 years ago was 1962, when President John F. Kennedy was in office and it seemed like America was entering a new dawn.

What Barack Obama meant was that Mitt Romney wanted to take away the rights of women and every minority group in the country. He did not say it explicitly – Barack Obama is too clever a politician for that, and the remarks has been carefully prepared before being loaded onto the teleprompters – but he was suggesting that Mitt Romney is a dangerous extremist and very possibly a racist.

Exactly four years ago today in Las Vegas, Barack Obama that “things can get ugly sometimes” in election campaigns and that “say anything, do nothing, do anything” politics can take over.

Barack Obama continued: “The ugly phone calls, the misleading mail and TV ads, the careless, outrageous comments, all aimed at keeping us from working together, all aimed at stopping change.

“Well, you know what? This is not what we need right now. The American people don’t want to hear politicians attack each other. You want to hear about how we’re going to attack the challenges facing the middle class all over the country.”

After resisting for months calls to draw up a plan for a second term, this week Barack Obama tore down a small rainforest by printing 3.5 million copies of a 20-page booklet entitled “A Plan for Jobs and Middle-Class Security”.

But there was nothing new in the booklet and was rushed out just two weeks before election day and the morning after the final debate – too late for Mitt Romney to challenge him on it.

More to the point, Barack Obama’s focus is not on his own record but on tearing Mitt Romney down personally in exactly the way he decried four years ago.

This week, we’ve seen Barack Obama use the softball setting of the Jay Leno Show to denounce Mitt Romney by association based on the clumsy comments of Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Indiana.

Richard Mourdock, asked in a debate about whether a foetus conceived during rape should be aborted, responded that life was a “gift from God” and that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen”.

Barack Obama knew that Richard Mourdock was essentially outlining the position of any observant Roman Catholic – that an unborn child’s life was precious no matter how it was created. But Barack Obama told the Leno audience: “Rape is rape. It is a crime. And so these various distinctions about rape don’t make too much sense to me.”

Richard Mourdock – never mind Mitt Romney – made no distinction about different types of rapes or characterized rape as anything other than a crime.

What Barack Obama was doing was what he was doing in his Las Vegas speech – playing on the fears of voters that Mitt Romney is a crazed bigot.

As the laundry list of minority voting groups indicated, Barack Obama was engaging in what one politician described in 2008 as “the kind of slice and dice politics that’s about race and about gender and about this and that, and that’s what Americans are tired of because they recognize that when we divide ourselves in that way we can’t solve problems”.

That politician, of course, was Barack Obama, then running for president.

Barack Obama has signally failed to woo Republicans in Washington and there is precious little evidence he has even tried. Today, we learned that when asked by a Rolling Stone editor whether he had a message for the editor’s six-year-old daughter took the opportunity to describe Mitt Romney as “a bulls***tter”.

Almost all politicians – though not Mitt Romney – swear in private. But for a President of the United States to describe his opponent publicly in such a way was beneath the dignity of his office.

Barack Obama’s tactics in the final days of this campaign might well pay off. Politically speaking, he may not have any other way of scraping a narrow victory – though the risk is that he will turn-off moderate voters.

But if Barack Obama is re-elected the way he has run his campaign may make it almost impossible for him to govern effectively – let alone in the spirit of the “better angels of our nature” that Abraham Lincoln cited in his first inaugural speech and that Barack Obama used to love quoting.

It was John McCain who said in 2008 that he would not “take the low road to the highest office in the land”.

Barack Obama seems to believe that the load road is his only route back to the White House in 2012. It is the kind of strategy that Candidate Obama in 2008 would have viewed as beneath contempt.


President Barack Obama casts his vote later in Chicago as his campaign seeks to boost early ballots in a neck-and-neck election race.

Barack Obama will be the first president to vote early, as part of a two-day campaign marathon across eight states.

His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, is in Ohio, a swing state which could hold the key to the White House.

A new Associated Press poll suggests Mitt Romney has eked out a slight national edge over Barack Obama, by 47% to 45%.

The survey also showed that Mitt Romney had erased some of the president’s lead among women, although Barack Obama had sliced into his rival’s lead with male voters.

The president’s ballot casting on Thursday is part of the Obama campaign’s wider effort to encourage early voting, with many states holding open in-person polls this week.

First Lady Michelle Obama voted by absentee ballot on 15 October.

Because the US election is a state-by-state contest, a presidential candidate must win key battlegrounds like Ohio, Virginia and Florida, which do not reliably vote for either party. No Republican has ever won the White House without taking Ohio.

The Obama campaign recently won a court ruling to keep Ohio’s early voting open through the weekend before the election.

Mitt Romney makes three stops across the Mid-Western state on Thursday, while his running mate Paul Ryan is spending the day in Virginia.

But they have been distracted by the fall-out from a fellow Republican candidate’s remarks on Tuesday night that pregnancy from rape was part of God’s plan.

Barack Obama will be the first president to vote early, as part of a two-day campaign marathon across eight states

Barack Obama will be the first president to vote early, as part of a two-day campaign marathon across eight states

The campaign has said it disagreed with the comments by anti-abortion Indiana Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock, although it did not withdraw support from him.

“We disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest, but still support him,” a campaign spokeswoman said.

Republicans running in tight contests elsewhere have repudiated Richard Mourdock’s remarks.

Barack Obama criticized Richard Mourdock on a US late-night talk show on Wednesday.

“I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas… rape is rape. It is a crime,” Barack Obama said on Jay Leno show, adding that politicians had no business making decisions for women about their bodies and health choices.

On Thursday, the president makes campaign stops in Florida, Virginia and Ohio. On Monday, he will appear for the first time at a campaign event this election cycle with former President Bill Clinton.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Barack Obama indicated what issues would be his priority in a second term, including a budget deal to reduce the US debt, as well as immigration.

Barack Obama received a boost from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed President Obama on Thursday.

Colin Powell, who also backed Barack Obama in 2008, cited recent improvements in the economy and the president’s guidance of the US military as reasons for his renewed support.

“I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars,” Colin Powell said.

“I think that the actions he’s taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid.”

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Attorney Gloria Allred has won her battle to have Mitt Romney’s sworn testimony in the bitter divorce of the ex-Staples CEO released to the public – in what is claimed could provide a damaging blow to his campaign.

The Boston Globe filed the application to unseal the records and lift a gagging order on all parties involved after receiving a tip-off that there was “juicy information about Romney” in the documents.

There have been claims that Mitt Romney’s 1991 testimony that Staples’ stock were “overvalued” meant Maureen Stemberg received a poor settlement in the divorce from the company’s former CEO Tom Stemberg.

But Mitt Romney’s lawyer said he would happily allow the court transcripts to be released, leaving them to be left open to interpretation. The documents have yet to be seen by the press.

Gloria Allred, a staunch Barack Obama supporter who promised an “October surprise” for Mitt Romney, arrived at the court in Canton, Massachusetts on Thursday morning with Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, 61.

She demanded a gagging order against her client be lifted so she could speak about Mitt Romney’s conduct through her divorce proceedings, which dragged on between 1987 and 2002.

“She is apparently the only person in the United States of America – perhaps the world – who cannot speak about Governor Romney,” Gloria Allred said.

“She needs to be able to speak.”

Gloria Allred argued that Maureen Stemberg is “denied her first amendment right” by the court in the “most comprehensive gag order I have ever seen in my 36 years of law”.

Judge Jennifer Ulwick responded that Maureen Stemberg should file her own modification to the gagging order, rather than it be dealt with today, meaning she cannot yet speak out.

The Boston Globe agreed to drop its bid for the dismissal of the gagging order in exchange for the release of Mitt Romney’s testimony.

On Wednesday, sources close to the case claimed that Mitt Romney’s testimony in 1991 meant Maureen Stemberg received a poor divorce payout.

TMZ reported that Mitt Romney, whose hedge fund, Bain Capital, was an investor in Staples before it became a household name, testified in the case that the company was worth virtually nothing.

Mitt Romney said in the hearings that the company’s stock was “overvalued” and that the future did not look good. Later Mitt Romney and Tom Stemberg allegedly cashed in their stock for a huge payout, according to TMZ.

His bitter ex-wife claims this testimony affected how much she got from the settlement.

Gloria Allred with her client Maureen Sullivan Stemberg

Gloria Allred with her client Maureen Sullivan Stemberg

Maureen Stemberg was awarded 500,000 shares in the company and later went on to cash in half of these before the company went public – missing out on a huge windfall as stocks soared from $2.25 to $19.

Bain Capital’s $2.5 million investment in Staples turned into a $13 million profit, and Mitt Romney’s decision to back in the company helped secure his reputation as a successful investor.

There is no proof so far that Mitt Romney or Tom Stemberg tried to mislead Maureen Stemberg or the court, and their lawyers said they had no objections to the release of Romney’s testimony.

In court on Wednesday, Jon Albano, the attorney for the Boston Globe, confirmed that the case revolves around Mitt Romney’s 20-year-old financial testimony and his “expert investment advice”.

The court appearances come as a string of online messages have surfaced from a commenter claiming to be Maureen Stemberg, in which she unleashes a scathing attack on Mitt Romney and promises all “will very soon be revealed” – in a possible nod to Gloria Allred’s campaign.

She also refers witheringly to his wife as “Queen Ann” and lambasts both as out of touch.

In a series of unashamedly pro-Obama comments on the Huffington Post, a woman calling herself Maureen Stemberg writes: “He had a lot of bodies hidden in his <<personal and business life>>. Will very soon be revealed. When the door opens he and his team will be heading for the hills. Scary group.”

She claims she was married to “his partner in crime, Mr. Staples” – a close friend and advocate of Mitt Romney – and brands the presidential hopeful “deplorable”.

The self-confessed Barack Obama supporter also describes a time the Romney attended their house for a Christmas party and “tried very hard to be real”.

“I truly do believe he has a fear and dislike for anyone who has less than 99,000,000 [dollars],” she wrote.

“He just can’t relate and obviously Queen Ann is the same.”

A Globe article in 2006 described Maureen Stemberg as living a comfortable lifestyle while demanding that her ex-husband pay her more money.

She “sits in her $5,200 a month, 14th-floor, concierge-at-the-door, elegantly furnished Back Bay apartment and tells you she’s broke”, it wrote.

“She can’t work. She can’t afford a car, her medications, her rent, even the family springer spaniel, J.J., who she just gave away.”

“I’m going to be out on the street,” she said.

“I’ve had a change of circumstances.”

Maureen Stemberg now works as an interior designer based in Charlestown, Massachusetts and has had a couple of reportedly on-off relationships since her divorce.

The online messages and interviews apparently reveal her enduring bitterness about her husband and their divorce, and Mitt Romney’s part in it.

She even featured in a 2008 Lifetime documentary, The Maureen Sullivan Stemberg Story: A Portrait in Courage, in which she gave an “in-depth account … of the interweaving relationships and strange bedfellow that business has made in her life… which include Mitt Romney”.

Polls show Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are neck-and-neck two weeks ahead of the election and Gloria Allred’s claims may be perceived as the latest round in a tit-for-tat battle between supporters of the two candidates.


Barack Obama appeared relaxed on the Jay Leno Show but gave Mitt Romney an opening when he quipped that he struggled with mathematics beyond the Seventh grade at the age of 13.

President Barack Obama was taking about helping his daughters with their maths homework when he said that “the math stuff I was fine with, up until 7th grade” but he was “pretty lost” after that.

In times of economic prosperity, the joke might have prompted hearty chuckles on both sides of the political aisle but with a $16 trillion deficit, a sputtering economy and unemployment only just under eight per cent, it was perhaps an unfortunate subject to joke about.

Barack Obama took a break from his heavy campaigning in swing states to appear on the Tonight Show Wednesday evening for an unprecedented fifth time, touching on everything from foreign policy to helping his daughters with homework.

He also joked about the origins of his rivalry with real estate billionaire Donald Trump, saying: “This all dates back to when we were growing up in Kenya. We had constant run-ins on the soccer field, he wasn’t very good.”

Donald Trump had Wednesday pledged to donate $5 million to the charity of Barack Obama’s choice if he released his college records.

Jay Leno questioned why the dislike existed between Barack Obama and Donald Trump, comparing it to the dislike between himself and CBS rival David Letterman.

Not missing a beat, Barack Obama said it dated back to their childhood rivalry in Kenya. In the past, Donald Trump was a high-profile member of the so-called “birther” movement, which professed that the president was born in Kenya and not the United States.

The end result eventually led to Barack Obama publishing his birth certificates, which confirmed, as he had always said, that he was born in Hawaii.

The president later added that he has never actually met Donald Trump.

Taking a break from levity, Jay Leno also touched on Mourdock’s controversial remarks, and referred to another Republican Senate hopeful, Todd Akin of Missouri.

Barack Obama admits he struggles with maths beyond the 7th grade on Jay Leno show

Barack Obama admits he struggles with maths beyond the 7th grade on Jay Leno show

Earlier in his campaign, Todd Akin, also an opponent of abortion, referred to “legitimate rape” when contending that women’s bodies are capable of preventing pregnancy after rape.

“Well, I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas,” Barack Obama said.

“Let me make a very simple proposition. Rape is rape. It is a crime. And so these various distinctions about rape don’t make too much sense to me – don’t make any sense to me.”

The president continued: “This is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s health care decisions. Women are capable of making these decisions in consultation with their partners, with their doctors.

“And for politicians to want to intrude in this stuff, oftentimes without any information, is a huge problem.

“And this is obviously part of what’s stake at this election.”

When Jay Leno asked Barack Obama if he was glad the presidential debates are over, the president responded: “You know, I was sort of getting the hang of it.”

Barack Obama, whose performance in the first debate was widely panned, said he didn’t do an effective job of energetically outlining the contrast of visions between him and Republican Mitt Romney.

Part of the problem with a debate, he said, is that it’s not a natural way of communicating – having an argument with someone as you sit next to him.

“Well, you’re married,” said Jay Leno.

The president fired back: “But the difference is, with Michelle, I just concede every point.”

Asked which team he was backing in the World Series, the Detroit Tigers or the San Francisco Giants, Barack Obama managed to get in a dig at Mitt Romney: “I will say, I’ve spent a lot of time in Detroit lately, and I didn’t want to let go Detroit go bankrupt. So in this particular World Series, I might be a little partial.”

In a final segment, Jay Leno asked the president a series of questions curated from Facebook, which the president had never seen before.

One person asked what Sasha and Malia were planning to be for Halloween. While Barack Obama said that he wasn’t sure what his daughters were planning, he did joke that, because of the election year, Michelle Obama would pass out “candy for everybody”.

Last year, Michelle Obama famously handed out fruit to trick-or-treating children at the White House.

Another person asked the president: “What is the cure for Romnesia?”

Without skipping a beat, Barack Obama responded: “Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions,” then adding, “The main cure is, make sure to vote.”

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Amid of Gloria Allred’s claim that she will deliver an “October surprise” that will secure Barack Obama’s re-election, it has been revealed that the celebrity attorney spoke with the president one-on-one at a star-studded fundraiser two weeks before.

Gloria Allred caught up with Barack Obama at one point during the “30 Days to Victory” fundraiser at LA’s Nokia Theatre – an event headlined by Katy Perry, Bon Jovi, Jennifer Hudson and George Clooney.

The celebrity attorney was interviewed outside the venue by O’Reilly Factor correspondent Jesse Watters, who asked her whether she was more into the music or seeing the president.

Gloria Allred replied: “I’m a very proud supporter of President Obama. I was an elected Obama delegate to the democratic National Convention, I just had a few words with the President.”

She added: “He was very kind to me. He had some very kind words to me. And he knows of my work for women’s rights. And I of course am very appreciative of everything he has done and everything I know he will do in four years for women’s rights.”

In a jab at Barack Obama’s Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Gloria Allred said: “And it’s so essential that we re-elect President Obama because the alternative is just unthinkable.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Mitt Romney allegedly provided testimony in the bitter divorce of his friend and staunch advocate, ex-Staples CEO Tom Stemberg, that meant his ex-wife received a poor divorce settlement.

Gloria Allred was interviewed outside the Nokia Theatre two weeks before making her October surprise claims

Gloria Allred was interviewed outside the Nokia Theatre two weeks before making her October surprise claims

Sources told TMZ that Mitt Romney, whose hedge fund, Bain Capital, was an investor in Staples before it became a household name, testified in the case that the company was worth virtually nothing and that his friend was a “dreamer”.

Mitt Romney testified during the hearings in 1988 that the company’s stock was “overvalued” and that the future did not look good. Later Mitt Romney and Tom Stemberg allegedly went to Goldman Sachs to cash in their stock for a massive payout, according to TMZ.

His bitter ex-wife Maureen Stemberg claims this testimony effected how much she got from the settlement.

It is unclear what if any lump sum she got out of the divorce, but it is known she was awarded 500,000 shares in the company. Maureen Stemberg later went on to cash in half of these before the company went public – missing out on a huge windfall as stocks soared from $2 to $19.

There is no proof so far that Mitt Romney or Tom Stemberg tried to mislead Maureen Stemberg or the court.

Mitt Romney’s lawyer Robert Jones simply said that his client had no issues with the testimony being made public.


Mitt Romney’s character will be called into question if explosive details of his sworn testimony at the divorce hearing of former Staples CEO Tom Stemberg are released to the public, it has been claimed.

Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who has promised an “October surprise”, is in court in Canton, Massachusetts, today with Tom Stemberg’s ex-wife to reportedly attempt to unseal the case records and lift a gagging order on all parties involved.

The Boston Globe newspaper filed the application after reportedly receiving a tip-off that there was “juicy information about Romney” in the sealed documents. The revelations are said to involve allegations about a child custody matter.

At the hearing, Gloria Allred presented Mitt Romney and Tom Stemberg’s attorneys with copies of the presidential candidate’s testimony. They asked for time to review the documents before they decide whether to argue against releasing them, according to a CBS reporter in court.

But earlier today Mitt Romney’s lawyer Robert Jones told Time magazine that his client had no issues with the testimony being made public.

“This is a decades-old divorce case in which Mitt Romney provided testimony as to the value of a company,” he said.

“He has no objection to letting the public see that testimony.”

The court appearance comes as a string of online messages have surfaced from a commenter claiming to be Maureen Stemberg, 61, in which she unleashes a scathing attack on Mitt Romney and promises all “will very soon be revealed” – in a possible nod to Gloria Allred’s campaign.

She also refers witheringly to his wife as “Queen Ann” and lambasts both as out of touch.

In a series of unashamedly pro-Obama comments on the Huffington Post, a woman calling herself Maureen Stemberg writes: “He had a lot of bodies hidden in his <<personal and business life>>. Will very soon be revealed. When the door opens he and his team will be heading for the hills. Scary group.”

She claims she was married to “his partner in crime, Mr. Staples” – a close friend and advocate of Mitt Romney – and brands the presidential hopeful “deplorable”.

Mitt Romney reportedly testified about Tom Stemberg’s role as a father to his four sons from two ex-wives during court proceedings surrounding his “messy” divorce from Maureen in 1987.

RadarOnline.com quoted a source as saying: “Governor Mitt Romney gave sworn testimony about his observations of Tom’s role as a father to his four sons.”

And Maureen Stemberg apparently remains extremely bitter about his part in her divorce, posting last month: “I know the man and his wife. President Obama the only one to be our President!”

Maureen Stemberg also describes a time the Romney attended their house for a Christmas party and “tried very hard to be real”.

“I truly do believe he has a fear and dislike for anyone who has less than 99,000,000 [dollars],” she wrote.

“He just can’t relate and obviously Queen Ann is the same.”

A 2005 Boston Globe article reported that Maureen Stemberg received nearly 500,000 shares of Staples stock in the divorce, but sold half before the company went public, missing out on a huge windfall.

And while another Globe article the following year described her as living a comfortable lifestyle, she demanded that her ex-husband pay her more money.

Maureen Stemberg “sits in her $5,200 a month, 14th-floor, concierge-at-the-door, elegantly furnished Back Bay apartment and tells you she’s broke”, it wrote.

“She can’t work. She can’t afford a car, her medications, her rent, even the family springer spaniel, J.J., who she just gave away.”

“I’m going to be out on the street,” she said.

“I’ve had a change of circumstances.”

She now works as an interior designer based in Charelstown, Massachusetts and has had a couple of reportedly on-off relationships since her divorce.

The online messages and interviews apparently reveal her enduring bitterness about her husband and their divorce – and Mitt Romney’s part in it.

Maureen Stemberg even featured in a 2008 Lifetime documentary, The Maureen Sullivan Stemberg Story: A Portrait in Courage, in which she gave an “in-depth account … of the interweaving relationships and strange bedfellow that business has made in her life… which include Mitt Romney”.

Recent polls show Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are neck-and-neck two weeks ahead of the election and Gloria Allred’s claims may be perceived as the latest round in a tit-for-tat battle between supporters of the two candidates.

Tom Stemberg’s sons are in their mid-teens and early twenties. His divorce attorney, Joel Kozel is also expected to attend today’s hearing. It is not known whether Mitt Romney will attend.

Another source quoted on the RadarOnline said: “Ms. Allred’s client feels that the public needs to know about Governor Mitt Romney’s role in this very important case.

“Governor Romney is running for President of the United States and this goes to a very important character issue.”

Tom Stemberg, 63, has four sons from his two ex-wives, Maureen Sullivan Stemberg and Dola Hamilton Stemberg.

But the Globe reported on his “paternal shortcomings” in 2006, recounting a story about how, when Tom Stemberg lived with his second wife and their young children, he cut out his then 12-year-old son, Mac, with his wife Maureen.

It explains that he wrote to the boy: “It will not be possible for you to be part of our family in the foreseeable future,” because of the child’s supposed misbehavior during their divorce blaming the child for taking sides between parents and creating unbearable hassles, such as monthly court appearances.

Tom Stemberg’s links to the Presidential candidate are well documented. Mitt Romney’s hedge fund, Bain Capital, was an early investor in Staples.

Mitt Romney was a director of the firm for over a decade and some 90,000 of the 100,000 private sector jobs he has boasted of creating are through stationary retailer.

During a speech given at the Republican National Convention last summer Stemberg praised the Massachusetts Governor saying: “He never looked at Staples as merely a financial investment.

“He saw the engine of prosperity it could become. Today Staples employs nearly 90,000 people.

“It has over 2,000 stores, over 50 distribution centers, and it is part of a competitive industry that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses get started on their own.”

And during an interview with PBS’ Frontline earlier this year Tom Stemberg described his first meeting with Mitt Romney.

He said: “When you first walked in and saw Mitt, he looked like a guy who ought to be president of the United States.

“This guy, he looked perfect; he dressed perfect; he spoke perfectly. He asked the most poignant questions in a very, very nice way and didn’t make you feel defensive and really drew the best or worst out of you. He was just really, really good.”

Tom Stemberg described Mitt Romney as being “no shrinking violet” and said he hadn’t been concerned when his friend entering politics running for governor of Massachusetts.

“Nobody pushes Mitt Romney around. Having said that, if there’s one person whom he will almost always defer to, it’s Ann Romney,” he added.

Conservative blogger Matt Drudge fuelled talk last week that Gloria Allred was up to something when he tweeted: “Here she comes. Hearing Gloria Allred out there again, about to make a move. After all, it’s her time of the campaign. Team O at the ready!!”

Several news organizations had speculated that the case could involve Mormon women whom Mitt Romney advised on family matters while he was bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Gloria Allred has a long history of trotting out female clients who claim to have revealing and damaging stories about high-profile men.

One of Gloria Allred’s most famous clients includes a woman who accused former Tea Party presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual assault.

Another famous client includes a woman who claimed California GOP candidate Meg Whitman knowingly employed her as an illegal immigrant housekeeper.

Some conservative bloggers appear concerned about what Gloria Allred might expose.

The New York conservative blog, The Red Side of Life, demanded Mitt Romney supporters “stop her now”, adding “we’re doing too well to risk an Allred”.

“Gloria Allred Prepares Anti-Mitt Strike You Can STOP Her Now! (action!) Don’t underestimate Gloria Allred’s ability to inflict damage,” the website reads.


Mitt Romney has doubled his lead in a new national poll just hours after the final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida.

Just two weeks to go until election day it is unclear whether President Barack Obama will be able to make up the gap.

Mitt Romney held a four-point lead in the Rasmussen tracking poll released on Tuesday, with 50% of the vote compared to 46% for Barack Obama. In Monday’s poll he led by two points.

In addition, Mitt Romney’s lead was five points in swing states and as many as nine points among self-declared independent voters.

The poll was released just a few hours after the third and last debate of the presidential election campaign, which saw the two candidates clash over foreign affairs in Boca Raton.

Barack Obama showed off his foreign-policy experience, repeatedly patronizing his opponent as he accused him off being “all over the map” on how to deal with the world, even describing him as “wrong and reckless”.

But Mitt Romney held his own in the face of Barack Obama’s sustained assaults, working hard to establish his credentials as a sober and steady statesman with an obviously well-briefed analysis of world matters, from Iran to Poland to Mali.

The two bitter rivals were meeting for the final time at Lynn University in Boca Raton with all to play for in a neck-and-neck race for the White House.

CNN’s survey of debate-watchers showed that 48% considered the President the winner, with 40% favoring Romney and 12% undecided. A CBS poll had Barack Obama in front with 53% compared to just 23% for Romney, with 24% on the fence.

The Rasmussen Reports poll released on Tuesday recounted only the results of surveys conducted before the debate, so it is not yet known whether either candidate will receive a boost from the evening.

Mitt Romney has doubled his lead in a new national poll just hours after the final presidential debate in Boca Raton

Mitt Romney has doubled his lead in a new national poll just hours after the final presidential debate in Boca Raton

One contest Barack Obama undoubtedly won was that of loquaciousness – the President spoke for 41 minutes and 42 seconds, 35 seconds longer than Mitt Romney. The Democratic candidate had the majority of speaking time in all four presidential or vice-presidential debates this year.

It was Barack Obama who appeared to be the challenger at times – a clear sign that he fears his re-election hopes are slipping away from him – hammering away at Mitt Romney, trying to belittle him and all but calling him a liar.

Mitt Romney tried to remain above the fray and appeal to moderate and undecided voters. He was noticeably less tetchy than in the bad-tempered second debate in Hempstead, New York.

But Mitt Romney hit home with a precise attack on Barack Obama’s “apology tour” of the Middle East in 2009, which seemed to rile Obama visibly. He said that the President had said he was sorry the U.S. had dictated to countries, adding: “Mr. President we have not dictated to other nations, we have freed other nations from dictators.”

The Romney campaign appeared confident in the aftermath of the debate, arguing that Barack Obama was “shedding voters” and was “trying to manage the rate of decline” in support ahead of election day.

“We entered this debate in a good position and we leave it in a stronger position,” said strategist Stuart Stevens.

“Whatever is that intangible quality of being presidential and who you would trust, Governor Romney had it more than the President.”

Speaking about Barack Obama’s performance in Boca Raton, Stuart Stevens added: “It was not the demeanor you would expect of a President. He came in with a bunch of political talking points like a young fresh graduate of a spin class trying to come off with these points.”

But the President’s campaign manager Jim Messina described Mitt Romney as “unsteady”, adding that he “did not look like a commander-in-chief. He did not pass the test and that’s a very bad moment for the Romney campaign”.

Jim Messina continued: “The contrast tonight was between a strong and steady President and an uncertain Romney and that’s how incumbent presidents get re-elected.”

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Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney have battled over national security in the third and final presidential debate at Boca Raton, Florida.

The rivals tangled over the Arab Spring, Iran, China’s rise and more in a feisty 90-minute head-to-head.

Barack Obama said his Republican challenger was “all over the map” on foreign policy, while Mitt Romney said the president had failed to uphold American global leadership.

The two candidates are running neck and neck with two weeks until the election.

In the final debate, moderated by veteran CBS News presenter Bob Schieffer, there were no noticeable gaffes or knockout blows.

The forum at Lynn University featured little of the interrupting that marked their second encounter last week in New York, when Barack Obama came out swinging after his lackluster performance in their first head to head in Denver, Colorado.

The rivals found some common ground – each declared unequivocal support for Israel and both voiced opposition to US military involvement in Syria.

Mitt Romney also said he agreed with the president’s policy of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan by 2014 – the Republican has suggested otherwise in the past.

In laying out one of his overarching themes on foreign policy, Mitt Romney said the US under President Barack Obama’s leadership had allowed “tumult” to engulf the Middle East.

He cited civilian deaths in Syria, the rise of al-Qaeda affiliates in North Africa and Iran’s nuclear programme.

But the Republican steered clear of his suggestion in the last debate that the Obama administration had mishandled last month’s Libya US consulate attack, which left four Americans dead.

Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney have battled over national security in the third and final presidential debate at Boca Raton

Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney have battled over national security in the third and final presidential debate at Boca Raton

“What’s been happening over the last couple of years is, as we’re watching this tumult in the Middle East, this rising tide of chaos occur, you see al-Qaeda rushing in, you see other jihadist groups rushing in,” Mitt Romney said.

“I congratulate him on taking out Osama Bin Laden and taking on the leadership of al-Qaeda, but we can’t kill our way out of this… We must have a comprehensive strategy.”

Barack Obama hit back that he was glad that Mitt Romney had recognized the threat posed by al-Qaeda, reminding the former Massachusetts governor that he had earlier this year cast Russia as America’s number one geo-political foe.

The president sought to portray Mitt Romney as a foreign policy novice who lacked the consistency needed to be commander-in-chief.

Barack Obama said Mitt Romney had backed a continued troop presence in Iraq, opposed nuclear treaties with Russia, even when they had broad bipartisan backing, and accused the Republican of flip-flopping over whether the US should have a timeline for leaving Afghanistan.

“What we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map,” Barack Obama said.

The president said that he had ended the war in Iraq and “decimated” al-Qaeda’s leadership, allowing the US to prepare a responsible timeline for withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Mitt Romney, whose book is called No Apology, accused Barack Obama of having gone on “an apology tour” after he took office and of saying at the time he would meet “all the world’s worst actors”, including leaders from North Korea and Iran.

“I think they looked at that and saw weakness,” Mitt Romney said.

The president hit back, saying: “Nothing Governor Romney has just said is true, starting with the notion of me apologizing,” a claim Barack Obama labeled the “biggest whopper” of the campaign.

The rivals also jostled to act tougher than the other on China, as allegations flew about trade violations and currency manipulation by Beijing.

Although the debate’s focus was meant to be on foreign affairs, the two candidates pivoted repeatedly back to the fragile US economy, the issue uppermost in voters’ minds.

Mitt Romney said he knew what it took to create jobs and boost pay, while Barack Obama was nine million jobs short of his pledge of 5.4% employment.

But Barack Obama accused Mitt Romney of planning $5 trillion of tax cuts and $2 trillion of defence spending the military had not even requested.

“You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” Barack Obama said in one of the night’s most memorable lines.

“Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.”

An NBC poll on Sunday put the men in a dead heat, each with 47% support.

A lackluster performance by Barack Obama in the opening debate in Denver, Colorado, on 3 October gave Mitt Romney a campaign boost.

But in their second face-off in New York last week, a more aggressive Barack Obama buried the memory of a poor first showing as he came out swinging on the economy, tax and foreign policy.

After Monday night’s showdown, both candidates will be returning to the campaign trail for a grueling final two weeks of wooing voters in swing states.

The final debate behind them, both men will now launch a final fortnight of campaigning. Already four million ballots have been cast in early voting in more than two dozen states.

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