In New Hampshire, Obama hammers Romney over women, Iraq war

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:08pm EDT

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MANCHESTER, New Hampshire Oct 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama hammered Republican Mitt Romney over women's rights and foreshadowed arguments he will make in an upcoming debate on foreign policy during a campaign stop on Thursday in the battleground state of New Hampshire.

The Democratic incumbent has rebounded since his sharper, more energetic performance in Monday night's debate helped make up for his heavily criticized, lackluster appearance in their first encounter, which gave Romney a boost in public opinion polls.

A Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll showed Obama holding a slight but steady lead, with 47 percent of likely voters saying they plan to vote for Obama compared to 44 percent for Romney, in line with the previous day's results.

"He's back on the more positive footing he was on going into convention season," said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

"He sort of has redeemed himself, if you will, from that first debate."

Both Romney and Obama are pressing hard to win over women ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Obama has sought to build on any momentum he got from his last debate performance during two days of campaign stops, assailing Romney for not stating clearly his support for a law ensuring equal pay for women.

"Governor Romney still won't say whether or not he supported a law to protect that right, no matter how many times he's asked. This is not - this is not that hard," Obama said to a crowd of some 6,000 in New Hampshire.

"I've got two daughters. I want to make sure they get paid the same as somebody's sons for doing the same job. Pretty straightforward. Any confusion there?"

A Romney spokesman dismissed Obama's attacks.

"Today, President Obama only offered Granite State voters more misleading attacks to distract from his failed record, his reckless spending and his inability to present a discernible vision to move our country forward," said spokesman Ryan Williams.

With polls getting tight nationally, the focus is on swing states like Ohio and Florida that will likely decide the election. The Romney campaign said it was moving resources out of North Carolina, where it sees an increasing chance of winning, to allocate them to other battleground states.

Romney's economic plans have "resonated strongly" in the southern state and polls are increasingly widening, spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said.

The two men face off in their last debate on Monday in Florida, where the topic will be foreign policy.

"We've got a debate on Monday on foreign policy, and I'm very interested in seeing what Governor Romney has to say about that," Obama said.

"He said that it was 'tragic' the way I ended the war in Iraq. Last week he said we should still have troops in Iraq. ... I think bringing our troops home after doing the job they did in Iraq was the right thing to do."

Romney and Obama were to meet on Thursday at a political dinner in New York. Romney spent the day at a Manhattan hotel preparing for the debate and his evening speech.

The president is also scheduled to make an appearance on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," a popular news satire show.

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