In homestretch, Obama and Romney begin battleground blitz

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Republicans derided the effort as a “repackaging” of the same policies that haven’t worked for the past four years, following criticism that Mr. Obama has failed to lay out an agenda for a second term.

The second tactic that the president and his surrogates hit hard Tuesday was the notion that Mr. Romney would be a dangerously inept commander in chief.

“In a world of new threats and profound challenges, America needs leadership that is strong and steady,” Mr. Obama told nearly 10,000 boisterous supporters at an outdoor tennis stadium in Delray Beach, Fla., on Tuesday morning. “Gov. Romney’s foreign policy has been wrong and reckless.”

The president’s rally in South Florida followed his third and final debate Monday night with Mr. Romney.

Since the first debate, the president’s polling advantage in some crucial states such as Florida have disappeared. Especially after his lackluster performance in the first debate on Oct. 3, Mr. Obama has been trying to regain his footing as he has fallen behind the Republican in some national polls.

The president ridiculed Mr. Romney’s foreign policy pronouncements Tuesday as being “all over the map.”

“During the debate, he said he didn’t want more troops in Iraq, but he was caught on video saying it was unthinkable not to leave 20,000 troops in Iraq, troops that would still be there today,” Mr. Obama said. “Early in this campaign, he said he’d do the opposite of whatever I do in Israel. But last night I reminded him that cooperation with Israel has never been stronger.”

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Mr. Romney “convincingly’ won the foreign policy debate.

“The American people saw an experienced executive and leader with a strong command of foreign policy who could be the next commander in chief,” she said. “While Gov. Romney laid out a clear, optimistic vision for America based on a strong economy, President Obama still failed to lay out a second-term agenda or put forth any new ideas for the future.”

The president began a three-day campaign swing, twice to Ohio, and to Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Florida again and Virginia. In between those campaign stops, Mr. Obama will find time to tape an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno in Los Angeles and to vote early in Chicago.

In Florida and across the country Tuesday, Mr. Obama and his supporters fanned out with the message that the president is the more experienced hand at foreign policy.

The Obama campaign’s heightened focus on the president’s experience in international affairs underscored advisers’ concern that Mr. Obama has lost some of his foreign policy edge over Mr. Romney in polls.

A month ago, the president had a clear advantage among likely voters on foreign policy. But after the terrorist attack in Libya on Sept. 11 that killed four Americans, and the administration’s shifting explanations for the assault, the president has lost much of his edge over Mr. Romney on the question of who would be a better commander in chief.

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, appearing at the rally in Delray Beach, said the president “knows you only have once chance to get it right.”

Rep. Theodore E. Deutch, Florida Democrat, said Mr. Obama made it clear in the debate that “his administration and this great country stand with our ally Israel.”

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