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Romney returns to Va. as gap with Obama narrows

SHARE Romney returns to Va. as gap with Obama narrows

RICHMOND, Va. — With polls showing a tightening presidential race and a less certain outcome, Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama took different tactics in Virginia heading into the weekend.

Romney roused a crowd of about 3,000 people Friday by blistering the Obama administration on its handling of the deadly raid on the U.S. embassy in Libya, sensing he'd gained the upper hand over the Democratic president in the Southern swing state.

Obama, meanwhile, planned a long weekend in Virginia, but with no public appearances. The president will closet himself for three days beginning Saturday in Williamsburg to prepare for his rematch debate Tuesday against Romney. Obama's lackluster performance in last week's debate gave Romney a lift in polls.

Polls released Thursday only clouded the picture in Virginia.

A poll of 1,288 likely Virginia voters by Quinnipiac University showed Obama widening what had been a 4 percentage point lead to a 51 percent to 46 percent advantage. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

Another poll by Marist College showed Romney was favored by 48 percent of the 981 likely voters surveyed compared with 47 percent for Obama. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Obama won Virginia in 2008, the first Democrat running for president to do so since 1964. His campaign views a repeat this year as critical to winning another term, and Romney's campaign also views the state as indispensable.

Before a crowd buoyed by Romney's recent improvement in polls that had consistently shown him falling behind Obama, Romney hailed the performance of his running mate Thursday night in his debate with Vice President Joe Biden. He criticized the Obama administration, accusing Biden of contradicting sworn testimony by State Department officials before a congressional panel investigating the deadly attack last month on the embassy in Libya.

Biden said in the debate that the administration had not been told about requests for additional security at the Benghazi Consulate. A State Department official testified before the panel that the administration denied the request.

"He's doubling down on denial, and we need to understand exactly what happened as opposed to people brushing this aside," Romney said. "When the vice president of the United States directly contradicts the sworn testimony — sworn testimony — of State Department officials, American citizens have a right to know what's going on."

Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said Romney was making good on a pledge made privately to wealthy donors to "use an international crisis to win votes if one were to occur, so Mitt Romney's continued politicization of the events in Libya comes as no surprise."