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President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio over his criminal contempt conviction was wrong, Paul Ryan has said.

The top-ranking Republican in Congress said that he did not agree with the decision.

Joe Arpaio, 85, was found guilty after he defied a court order to stop traffic patrols targeting suspected immigrants.

The former sheriff said his conviction was “a witch hunt by the Obama justice department”.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan is the latest senior politician to condemn Joe Arpaio’s pardon.

His spokesman said in a statement: “Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

Image source Flickr

President Donald Trump Pardons Ex-Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Paul Ryan Will Not Campaign with Donald Trump or Defend Him

Donald Trump Publicly Endorses Paul Ryan

Other prominent Republican critics include Arizona Senator John McCain and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Arizona’s other Republican Senator Jeff Flake also condemned the move as did Democrats and human rights campaigners.

Joe Arpaio’s lawyer Jack Wilenchik said that those critical of his pardon were wrong because he was unfairly prosecuted – there was no jury in his case.

The former sheriff was an eager supporter of Donald Trump’s campaign to become president and backed tougher policies to combat illegal immigration.

In a statement announcing the pardon, his first, President Trump said: “Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service.

“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”

Joe Arpaio has said that he may consider running for political office again, despite his age.

He lost a bid for re-election in Arizona’s Maricopa County in November 2016, after 24 years in office.

Joe Arpaio could have faced six months in jail at his sentencing in October.

He served in the US military before he became a police officer – where he quickly acquired a reputation for his anti-immigration stance and tough enforcement tactics.

Both houses of Congress are controlled by the GOP, but Donald Trump’s healthcare bill was withdrawn on March 24 because it could not get the votes required.

President Donald Trump has blamed Democrats for the failure of his healthcare bill.

Speaking to the Washington Post, he said: “We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy… so we pulled it.”

The last-minute retraction is seen as a huge blow to the president.

Repealing and replacing ObamaCare was one of Donald Trump’s major election pledges.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he and President Trump agreed to withdraw the vote, after it became apparent it would not get the minimum of 215 Republican votes needed.

Republicans have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

However, multiple reports suggested that between 28 and 35 Republicans were opposed to President Trump’s draft American Health Care Act (AHCA).

Some were said to be unhappy that the bill cut health coverage too severely, while others felt the changes did not go far enough.

The new healthcare bill also appeared unpopular with the public – in one recent poll, just 17% approved of it.

Image source Getty Images

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the AHCA would reduce the deficit by $336 billion between 2017 and 2026.

However, the number of Americans without health insurance would stand at 52 million by the same time – an extra 24 million compared with ObamaCare.

Speaking after the withdrawal, President Trump repeatedly said ObamaCare would “explode”.

However, he refrained from criticizing Paul Ryan, whose job as speaker of the House involves rallying support for controversial bills.

President Trump said: “I like Speaker Ryan. I think Paul really worked hard.”

Paul Ryan also told reporters the president had been “really been fantastic”.

Donald Trump said the Republicans would probably focus on tax reform for now.

“We have to let ObamaCare go its own way for a little while,” he told reporters at the Oval Office, adding that if the Democrats were “civilized and came together”, the two parties could work out a “great healthcare bill”.

“We learned about loyalty; we learned a lot about the vote-getting process,” he said.

Earlier Paul Ryan told reporters: “We are going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future.

“I will not sugar-coat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard.

“We were a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do.”

Leader of the House minority Democrats Nancy Pelosi described the retraction as “a victory for the American people”.

Republicans in the House have voted to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), the body that investigates claims of misconduct against members of Congress.

Under the change, the independent OCE would come under the control of the House Ethics Committee.

Republican leaders in the House had opposed the change. The newly elected Congress meets later and the full House will vote on the proposed new rules.

However, Democrats reacted angrily to the vote.

The proposals, tabled in an amendment to House rules by Congressman Bob Goodlatte, would weaken the OCE’s oversight of matters such as conflicts of interests and financial impropriety.

If the new rules package is voted in – as is likely as the Republicans have a clear majority – the OCE would be renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review.

Under the proposals the new body would no longer be able to receive anonymous tip-offs, nor have a spokesperson, and would be under the supervision of the House Ethics Committee. Accusations against lawmakers would not be made public, as they are currently.

Any referral to law enforcement agencies would have to be approved by members of the committee.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, said the amendment to the rules would effectively destroy the OCE.

She said in a statement: “Republicans claim they want to <<drain the swamp>>, but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP [Republican Party] has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions.

“Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

During his election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly vowed to “drain the swamp” of Washington politics, claiming the federal government was corrupt and dysfunctional. He has not commented on the proposals for the ethics body.

While House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy were reportedly opposed to the amendment, Rep. Bob Goodlatte – chair of a House committee – introduced it anyway.

Rank and file members voted to support it in a closed session of the House Republican Conference.

There was no advance notice of the move, which came late on a federal public holiday.

The Office of Congressional Ethics was created in 2008 after a series of embarrassing scandals, including one involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff who was jailed for conspiracy and fraud.

Some felt that the House Ethics Committee had previously been held back from investigating wrongdoing by fellow members of the House of Representatives.

Nancy Pelosi – then leader of a Democrat-controlled House – spearheaded the efforts to reform oversight of Congress and shed light on the often murky world of Washington lobbying after the Abramoff scandal.

After their success in November’s elections, Republicans will control both houses in the new session of the US Congress.

Once Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20, the GOP will control both Congress and the presidency for the first time since 2007.

According to the US constitution, “each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings”, so at the start of each new Congress, the House of Representatives has to approve its own rules and regulations.


Top Republicans Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have said they will support further investigation of findings that Russian hackers meddled in the November election.

The House speaker and Senate majority leader said any foreign intervention in the polls was unacceptable.

Donald Trump has repeatedly poured scorn on the claims, made by the CIA.

The CIA concluded on December 9 that Russia’s motive was to help Donald Trump.

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan said their respective intelligence committees would investigate the allegations.

Photo AP

Photo AP

“Any foreign breach of our cyber-security measures is disturbing and I strongly condemn any such efforts,” Senator Mitch McConnell told reporters, adding that “the Russians are not our friends”.

Paul Ryan echoed these remarks, but warned against exploiting the work of the intelligence community for “partisan purposes”.

The remarks came amid suggestions by Donald Trump that the claims were politically motivated.

On December 11, the president-elect told Fox News the Democrats were disseminating the “ridiculous” hacking reports because they lost the election.

Then on the next day Donald Trump tweeted: “Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!

“Unless you catch <<hackers>> in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn’t this brought up before election?”

The FBI said two month ago that it believed Russia was behind the Democratic Party hacks, but on December 9 the CIA went further by concluding Russia’s motive was to help Donald Trump.

On December 12, the Hillary Clinton campaign, which lost to Donald Trump in last month’s election, said it was supporting an effort by a handful of members of the electoral college to request an intelligence briefing on the latest hacking allegations.

The Electoral College meets next week to ratify the results of the election.

Last week, President Barack Obama has ordered a complete review of the hacks, which targeted emails at the Democratic Party and John Podesta’s emails.

The contents of the emails, passed to WikiLeaks and posted online, were embarrassing to the Democrats and shook up the presidential campaign.

Republicans have kept their hold over Congress, capping a dire night for the Democrats.

With Donald Trump elected as the 45th US president, the GOP retained its majorities in the House and Senate.

Republican dominance over Congress in principle enables Donald Trump to turn his policy plans into law.

However, how easily this will happen is unclear given that key GOP leaders had refused to back him.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

The night began with majority control of the Senate up for grabs, with 34 of the 100 seats available.

However, the Democrats have so far gained just one seat in the Senate, with Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee Iraq war veteran, taking Mark Kirk’s place in Illinois. During a TV debate last month Mark Kirk mocked Tammy Duckworth’s Thai heritage, but later apologized.

Another bright spot was in Nevada, which Cortez Masto retained for the Democrats, beating Republican Joe Heck to become the first Latina senator.

Democrats also failed to significantly dent Republican advantage in the House, with just five Republican incumbents losing.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had distanced himself from Donald Trump after previously endorsing him, won re-election to the House of Representatives in Wisconsin.

Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American legislator, with victory in a House race in Minnesota. She came to the US while still a child, escaping Somalia’s civil war with her family and spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the most senior elected Republican official, has said he will not defend Donald Trump, after remarks he made about groping women led to outrage.

Paul Ryan vowed to focus on defending seats in Congress, but did not end his endorsement of the Republican Party’s nominee.

Donald Trump tweeted that Paul Ryan should not waste his time fighting him.

Earlier Hillary Clinton cast doubt on Donald Trump’s apology for the remarks, made 11 years ago.

On October 9, Donald Trump described his words as “locker-room talk”.

In a bitter TV debate, a month before the presidential election, Donald Trump denied he had groped anyone.

Hillary Clinton tweeted on October 10 that, if Donald Trump stood by this assertion, he was “clearly not sorry”.

Meanwhile Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said he would stand by him despite an outcry over the remarks.

A 2005 video released on October 7 revealed Donald Trump describing how he had sought to have s** with a married woman and making inappropriate comments about women.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Asked about the video in the debate, Donald Trump turned his fire on Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, whom he described as “abusive to women”.

Hillary Clinton refused to address the comments.

At least 38 senior Republicans – including senators, members of Congress, and state governors – have withdrawn their support for Donald Trump since the video surfaced.

According to sources familiar with a conference call he held with congress members on October 10, Paul Ryan appeared to have accepted that Hillary Clinton would win the White House and wanted to make sure Republicans in Congress were strong enough to challenge her.

Paul Ryan said he would spend “his entire energy making sure that Hillary Clinton does not get a blank cheque with a Democrat-controlled Congress”, the source said.

“You all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” Paul Ryan was quoted as telling colleagues.

Donald Trump apologized for the remarks, and when pressed during the debate on whether he had engaged in s**ual misconduct, he denied doing so.

However, Hillary Clinton said his explanation that these were words not actions did not amount to an apology.

“If Trump stands by what he said about women as <<locker room talk>>, he’s clearly not sorry,” she tweeted.

Meanwhile Mike Pence praised Donald Trump’s honesty.

“I think last night he showed his heart to the American people. He said he apologized to his family, apologized to the American people, that he was embarrassed by it,” Mike Pence told CNN on October 10.

Earlier Mike Pence had described the remarks as indefensible.

The vice-presidential candidate said he was “honored to stand with” Donald Trump and denied he had considered withdrawing from the race.

When moderator Anderson Cooper asked about the video, Donald Trump denied ever assaulting women, dismissing the remarks as “just words”. Instead he focused on ex-President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions.

Hillary Clinton said the explosive video “represents exactly who he is”.

“With prior Republican nominees, I disagreed with them, but I never questioned their fitness to serve,” she said.

Donald Trump said if he won, he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton and she would be in prison over her private email arrangements.

“Everything he just said is absolutely false but I’m not surprised,” she responded.

“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”

“Because you’d be in jail,” Donald Trump interrupted.

He also said Hillary Clinton “has tremendous hate in her heart” while criticizing her for referring to his supporters as “deplorables”.

Hillary Clinton said she apologized for the comment, adding: “My argument is not with his supporters, it’s with him, about the hateful and divisive campaign he has run.”

Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton also sparred on the conflict in Syria, Russian aggression, Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns and his plan for the “extreme vetting” of immigrants arriving from countries with links to terrorism.

The evening concluded when an audience member asked the candidates to say one positive thing about each other.

Hillary Clinton said his children were a great reflection of him while Donald Trump called his opponent “a fighter” who never gives up.

An hour before the debate began, Donald Trump appeared at a news conference with women who accused Bill Clinton of s**ual misconduct.

Donald Trump joined three women who allege Bill Clinton assaulted them and called the women “very courageous”.

Hillary Clinton also defended controversial remarks she made in a private speech that was made public in leaked emails on October 8.

The transcript revealed Hillary Clinton said a politician has a public and private position, but at the debate she said she had watched a film about Abraham Lincoln and was referring only to what he had done.

Donald Trump has publicly backed House Speaker Paul Ryan days after snubbing him in a spat at the top of the Republican Party.

The Republican candidate shocked party members on August 2 when he refused to endorse Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain in their campaigns for re-election in November.

Paul Ryan, the GOP’s highest-ranking elected official, had himself long delayed endorsing Donald Trump.

“I support and endorse our Speaker… Paul Ryan,” Donald Trump said on August 5.

“We need unity – we have to win this election,” he said during a campaign stop in Green Bay, Wisconsin – Paul Ryan’s home state.Donald Trump RNC conspiracy

While they might “disagree on a couple of things”, they agreed on a lot as well, Donald Trump added.

The billionaire also endorsed Arizona Senator John McCain and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.

In his earlier interview for the Washington Post, Donald Trump had said he was “just not quite there yet” when asked if he would endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain.

It was the same phrase used by Paul Ryan before he finally endorsed Donald Trump.

Paul Ryan and John McCain had both criticized Donald Trump’s attacks on the bereaved parents of Captain Humayun Khan killed in Iraq.

The Muslim soldier was killed by a car bomb in 2004 in Iraq at the age of 27.

The Congress has been blocked by a Democrat protest over a vote on gun control legislation.

The Democrats’ sit-in comes in the wake of the recent shootings in Orlando, the deadliest in modern US history.

Republican Speaker Paul Ryan tried to regain control of the lower house but was met with chants of “no bill, no break!”

The Republicans switched off the House TV cameras but Democrats continued to feed live pictures via their phones.

The transmissions, broadcast by the C-Span network, technically break House rules, but one Democrat representative, Scott Peters, who provided a feed via the Periscope app, said the sit-in was breaking rules anyway.

The Democrats’ protest follows the gun attack on June 12, when a man claiming allegiance to ISIS, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people at the Pulse club in Orlando, Florida.

On June 22, some 168 House Democrats – out of 188 – and 34 senators – out of 44 – were on the floor.Democratic sit in 2016

As the protest reached its 10th hour, Paul Ryan tried to restore control with a recess, and then a return to voting on other legislative business.

Paul Ryan banged his gavel and tried to ignore the outbursts but amid Democrat shouts of “Shame! Shame!” he left the podium.

Democrats began singing “We shall overcome” and held up the names of gun attack victims.

The floor of the House became chaotic, with Republicans and Democrats shouting at each other.

Some Democratic representatives brought in sleeping bags, pillow and blankets, others doughnuts for colleagues.

Outside Congress, several hundred gun-control advocates gathered to voice support for the Democrats, shouting “hold the floor” and “do your job”.

A motion for a brief adjournment was passed at about 01:30 local time and the House then resumed at 02:30, with the majority Republicans hoping to vote on a bill on the Zika virus and then adjourn fully to July 5.

The sit-in is being led by congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

President Barack Obama took to Twitter to thank John Lewis “for leading on gun violence where we need it most”.

Paul Ryan dismissed the protest as a publicity stunt.

He told CNN he would not bring a gun control vote in the House of Representatives.

“They know that we will not bring a bill that takes away a person’s constitutionally guaranteed rights without… due process,” Paul Ryan said.

Some senators are pushing for a compromise, with top Democratic Senator Harry Reid supporting a Republican proposal.

Harry Reid said he supported new legislation proposed by Republican Senator Susan Collins that would stop gun sales to a limited number of people who are on some terrorism watch lists.

The bill is due to come before the Senate on June 23.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has called Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump “dangerously incoherent”.

Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump was unfit to be president and his election would be a “historic mistake”.

Donald Trump hit back, saying Hillary Clinton “no longer has credibility – too much failure in office”.

Outside Donald Trump’s rally in San Jose, California, anti-Trump protesters clashed with his supporters in one of the worst such confrontations so far.

Several of the billionaire’s supporters were punched, one was pelted with eggs and others were spat at, reports said.

In a boost for Donald Trump, House Speaker Republican Paul Ryan has endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy.Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Super Tuesday

Paul Ryan had previously refused to back Donald Trump and his support is the latest sign Republicans are unifying around their nominee.

He wrote in a column in his hometown Gazette newspaper in Wisconsin: “We have more common ground than disagreement.”

Paul Ryan also attacked Hillary Clinton saying: “A Clinton White House would mean four more years of liberal cronyism.”

In her speech Hillary Clinton, who is fighting Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, rejected Donald Trump’s foreign policy points, and called him thin-skinned, irrational and unprepared.

Hillary Clinton defended the Iran nuclear deal and said a Trump presidency could start overseas wars and ruin the US economy.

“This isn’t reality television, this is actual reality,” she said.

Hillary Clinton also said someone like Donald Trump could not be in charge of the country’s nuclear codes and that his proposals were vague and often nonsensical.

She said his anti-Muslim rhetoric and talk of American isolationism bolstered ISIS and argued against his disdain for Mexico and Mexican immigrants coming into the country.

Questioning Donald Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton said: “I’ll leave it to a psychiatrist to explain his affection for tyrants.”

Bernie Sanders has vowed to keep fighting for the nomination until the party’s convention in July, despite Hillary Clinton’s strong delegate lead.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have said they are “totally committed” to the GOP unity in a statement following their meeting.

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are trying to find common ground after the House speaker said he could not endorse the presumptive Republican nominee.

Paul Ryan has said Donald Trump lacked conservative principles.

“We had a great conversation this morning,” they wrote in a joint statement.

“While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground.”

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan said they would be having “additional discussions” but think they can unify the party and win the election.

At a press conference following the meeting, Paul Ryan said he was “very encouraged” by what he heard from Donald Trump.

Donald Trump arrived for the meeting at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington amid protesters brandishing placards.

Afterwards, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who mediated the talks in his office, said it was a success.

In December 2015, Paul Ryan harshly criticized Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US.

Donald Trump said it was “not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for”.

However, on May 11, Donald Trump appeared to soften, saying it was “just a suggestion”.

Paul Ryan, who ran as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s vice president, clashes with Donald Trump on many issues, including religious freedom and trade.

He has remained popular on Capitol Hill, after being urged to take over as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the autumn.

Many who view him as a more electable figure than Donald Trump have urged him – in vain – to run for president.

However, more Republicans are throwing their support behind Donald Trump, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Donald Trump is one of the least politically experienced nominees in US history, having never held elected office.

That outsider status has appealed to voters who feel let down by Washington.

A recent Gallup Poll shows that two in three Republican-leaning voters view Donald Trump favorably.

Paul Ryan has officially ruled out his 2016 presidential bid as Republican candidate.

The Speaker of the House said: “I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination.”

Paul Ryan’s name was floated as a late contender if there is a contested convention in July, as doubts persist over the strength of the candidates.

If Donald Trump, John Kasich nor Ted Cruz is able to win 1,237 delegates, the convention will be contested.Paul Ryan on Republican nomination

The state-by-state primary contests, which come to New York next week, determine the number of delegates pledged to a particular candidate.

Donald Trump is still well ahead in the number of delegates accumulated but may fall short of the magic number required.

At a contested convention, the delegates are free after the first ballot to back whom they want, opening the door for Texas Senator Ted Cruz or even the third candidate in the race, John Kasich.

Some in the party had hoped Paul Ryan would emerge as a candidate at that stage, believing he would be a more effective and less divisive figure than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

Speaking at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, Paul Ryan – who ran as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election – ruled himself out unequivocally.

Some commentators were quick to point out that Paul Ryan said he did not want to run for Speaker of the House in 2015 before eventually accepting the job.

Paul Ryan has been elected as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Hesitant to run at first, the Republican from Wisconsin eventually gained support of the majority of Republicans in Congress to succeed John Boehner of Ohio for the job.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Paul Ryan, 45, was Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 election.

He has helped determine budget and tax policy in Congress and said he only wanted the job to unify Republicans.

In his new position, Paul Ryan will be second in line to the presidency only behind the vice-president.

Among other responsibilities, the speaker acts as presiding officer over the House for administrative and business matters.

Paul Ryan has said he will run for House Speaker if Republicans in the chamber unite behind his candidacy.

The Wisconsin Representative, who ran as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate in 2012, is seen as his party’s best hope to elect an effective Congressional leader.

A group of ultra-conservative House members have recently rebelled against party leaders.

House Speaker John Boehner resigned last month under pressure.

John Boehner’s handpicked successor House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew from consideration after it was clear he did not have the support of the ultra-conservative bloc known as the Freedom Caucus.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Freedom Caucus, a group of about 30 to 40 members, demanded key concessions from Kevin McCarthy. The California representative reportedly said he could not effectively lead the House under those conditions.

The very public party infighting has been seen detrimental to the Republicans’ goal of retaining control of Congress and re-taking the White House in 2016.

“We as a conference should unify now,” Paul Ryan told reporters on October 20 after meeting with House Republicans.

“What I told members is if you can agree to these requests and if I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve, and if I am not unifying, that is fine as well – I will be happy to stay where I am.”

Paul Ryan gave his colleagues until October 23 to express their support.

He had been reluctant to serve, preferring his role as the chairman of the influential House Way and Means Committee.

Paul Ryan also is the father of three young children and returns home to Wisconsin on weekends to spend time with them.

John Boehner spent many of his weekends raising money for fellow Republican representatives.

Paul Ryan said on October 20 that if elected the role will have to change to accommodate his family life.

To run, Paul Ryan also demanded a House procedure known as “motion to vacate the chair” be abandoned.

The motion allows a small group of lawmakers to challenge the Speaker and is a key source of leverage for the Freedom Caucus.

John Boehner resigned in part because of this tactic.

It is unclear whether Republicans will unite behind Paul Ryan. At least one conservative called Paul Ryan’s demand to end the “motion to vacate the chair” a “non-starter” and others are still uncertain.

The US Congress budget committee has reached an agreement to fund federal services, after October government shutdown.

The proposed deal finances the government for two years and reduces the federal deficit by $23 billion.

It also avoids another government shutdown on January 15, 2014, when government funding is scheduled to run out.

The new deal “cuts spending in a smarter way,” Republican Congressman Paul Ryan said on Tuesday.

The budget deal also offsets $63 billion in previously enacted automatic military and domestic spending cuts triggered in January when Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a budget compromise.

Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray, the respective chairs of the House and Senate budget committees, were called on to reach a cross-party budget deal in the wake of October’s partial government shutdown over federal spending.

“We have broken through the partisanship and gridlock,” Patty Murray said of the new deal.

Senators Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, the respective chairs of the House and Senate budget committees, were called on to reach a cross-party budget deal in the wake of October's partial government shutdown over federal spending

Senators Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, the respective chairs of the House and Senate budget committees, were called on to reach a cross-party budget deal in the wake of October’s partial government shutdown over federal spending

Paul Ryan said he was optimistic the new budget agreement could pass both sides of the highly politically divided Congress.

The measure is expected to come to a vote before the House recesses for several weeks beginning on Friday.

According to the Congressional budget chairs, the new deal does not raise taxes but requires newly hired federal workers to make larger contributions to their pensions.

A federal airport security fee adding $5 to the cost of a typical return flight is also included.

Following the announcement on Tuesday, Republican House Speaker John Boehner called the “modest” cross-party deal a “positive step forward”.

President Barack Obama issued a written statement labeling the agreement “balanced” and “designed in a way that doesn’t hurt our economy”.

“This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like – and I know many Republicans feel the same way. That’s the nature of compromise,” he said.

But, “because it’s the first budget that leaders of both parties have agreed to in a few years, the American people should not have to endure the pain of another government shutdown for the next two years,” the president added.

Government officials say the deal, totalling an estimated $85 billion over the next decade, aims to carve $20 billion out of the nation’s $17 trillion debt.

The deal is expected to pass both houses of Congress, despite attempts by Conservative groups to persuade Republicans to oppose it.

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Mitt Romney thanked family and campaigners for support in his concession speech after admitting defeat in 2012 US election.

Congratulating Barack Obama on his win, Mitt Romney said the Republican Party’s “principles would endure” the defeat and asked his supporters to join him and his wife Ann in praying for Obama and the U.S.

“Thank you.

I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters.

This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.

I want to thank Paul Ryan for all that he has done for our campaign and for our country. Besides my wife, Ann, Paul is the best choice I’ve ever made. And I trust that his intellect and his hard work and his commitment to principle will continue to contribute to the good of our nation.

I also want to thank Ann, the love of my life. She would have been a wonderful first lady. She’s – she has been that and more to me and to our family and to the many people that she has touched with her compassion and her care.

I thank my sons for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and thank their wives and children for taking up the slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.

I want to thank Matt Rhoades and the dedicated campaign team he led. They have made an extraordinary effort not just for me, but also for the country that we love.

And to you here tonight, and to the team across the country – the volunteers, the fundraisers, the donors, the surrogates – I don’t believe that there’s ever been an effort in our party that can compare with what you have done over these past years. Thank you so very much.”

Mitt Romney thanked family and campaigners for support in his concession speech after admitting defeat in 2012 US election

Mitt Romney thanked family and campaigners for support in his concession speech after admitting defeat in 2012 US election

“Thanks for all the hours of work, for the calls, for the speeches and appearances, for the resources and for the prayers. You gave deeply from yourselves and performed magnificently. And you inspired us and you humbled us. You’ve been the very best we could have imagined.

The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion.

We look to our teachers and professors, we count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery. We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family. We look to our parents, for in the final analysis everything depends on the success of our homes. We look to job creators of all kinds. We’re counting on you to invest, to hire, to step forward. And we look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.

I believe in America. I believe in the people of America. And I ran for office because I’m concerned about America. This election is over, but our principles endure. I believe that the principles upon which this nation was founded are the only sure guide to a resurgent economy and to renewed greatness.

Like so many of you, Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign.

I so wish – I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.

Thank you, and God bless America. You guys are the best. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks, guys.”

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was Mitt Romney’s first choice as a running mate before he had a sudden change of heart and dumped him for Paul Ryan.

Chris Christie was miffed by Mitt Romney’s decision, particularly because he was led to believe in the weeks leading up to Paul Ryan’s introduction that he would be joining Romney on the Republican presidential ticket, Politico reported, citing conversations with “campaign insiders”.

Now Republican party bosses suspect Chris Christie’s momentary embrace of Barack Obama during the President’s tour of devastated New Jersey this week was a deliberate snub to Mitt Romney.

Chris Christie was vetted so hard by the Romney campaign in July that even some of Mitt Romney’s top advisers believed the New Jersey governor was the final choice as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

But Mitt Romney changed his mind over the course of two weeks this summer, advisers told Politico, and instead offered the job to Paul Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin.

Mitt Romney was attracted to Chris Christie for his unfiltered style that has helped turn him into rising star – albeit a controversial one – within the Republican Party.

Chris Christie has a propensity toward swearing, making him a bit of a liability for Mitt Romney, but he also has a knack for appealing to middle class voters, with whom Romney has had a hard time connecting.

Republican party bosses suspect Chris Christie's momentary embrace of Barack Obama during the President's tour of devastated New Jersey this week was a deliberate snub to Mitt Romney

Republican party bosses suspect Chris Christie’s momentary embrace of Barack Obama during the President’s tour of devastated New Jersey this week was a deliberate snub to Mitt Romney

At a campaign event for Mitt Romney in Iowa last December, Chris Christie bullied “Occupy” protestors out of a rally, leading Romney supporters to start chanting Christie’s name as they cheered with approval.

“You know what, we’re used to dealing with jokers like this in New Jersey all the time,” Chris Christie shouted at the protesters as they were led out of the rally by Mitt Romney staffers.

“So you guys go all out and chant and do what it is that you want to do.You are so angry, aren’t ya?” Chris Christie badgered.

“It’s so terrible… Oh work it out. Work it all out for yourselves. Work it all out for yourselves.”

In the end, it wasn’t Chris Christie’s bombast that drove Mitt Romney away: It was his disregard for Romney as the man at the top of ticket.

Chris Christie would consistently arrive late at campaign events that he was attending on behalf of Mitt Romney and he would spend the majority of his speaking time on himself, not the Republican presidential candidate.

Mitt Romney advisers began to think that Chris Christie wouldn’t know how to be a “number two” and they suddenly stopped vetting him without explanation just before Romney’s trip to Europe over the summer.

When Mitt Romney returned, he offered the job to Paul Ryan and waited another week to let Chris Christie know, just shortly before announcing his pick publicly.

Chris Christie has since been quietly retaliating against the Romney campaign for his sudden fall from favor, political analysts say.

He made news for his scarce mentions of Mitt Romney during his speech at the Republican National Convention.

“His view was, <<They saw the speech before I gave it. They vetted it. They said it was fine>>,” a Mitt Romney adviser told Politico.

“And the campaign’s view was, <<We told him that we thought there were more opportunities for him to put in stuff about Mitt, and he didn’t take the hint>>. There was a lot of agitation that led to a lot of sarcasm and the kind of comments that people don’t mean, but they kind of do.”

Chris Christie heaped praise on Barack Obama after he was invited onto Air Force One to tour the wreckage left behind by the storm.

“This was as comfortable and relaxed an interaction as I’ve had with the president since I’ve known him,” Chris Christie said.

“And I think it’s ’cause we’re both doing what we wanted to do, which is to get things done.”

Chris Christie said he expected to be criticized for complimenting the president.

“But you know what, I speak the truth,” he said.

“That’s what I always do. Sometimes you guys like it, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes politicians like it, sometimes they don’t. But I say what I feel and what I believe.

“And I’m just doing the same thing with the president of the United States. So, I do pinch myself every day. You know, like when I got on Marine One? I’m pinching myself, believe me.”

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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.


Mitt Romney has derided President Barack Obama, saying his rival has “no agenda” worthy of a second term in office.

At a campaign rally in Florida, Mitt Romney said the Obama campaign had been “reduced to petty attacks and silly word games”.

Hours earlier, Barack Obama decried Mitt Romney for shifting his positions as election day draws nearer, saying the Republican suffers from “Romnesia”.

The two meet for their final debate, on foreign policy, in Florida on Monday.

Mitt Romney and the Republicans are continuing to focus on the Obama administration’s handling of a deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans including the US ambassador were killed.

The incident provoked a flashpoint during Tuesday’s second debate, and is likely to be hotly debated again in Boca Raton.

Friday’s campaigning saw both candidates make one major stop each: Barack Obama in the Washington DC suburb of Fairfax, Virginia, and Mitt Romney in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Barack Obama told supporters that Mitt Romney was now only becoming more moderate as the election got closer.

“He is forgetting what his own positions are and he is betting that you are too,” Barack Obama said, giving his rival’s “condition” a crowd-pleasing name: “Romnesia”.

The president renewed his pitch to women voters, arguing that “you don’t want someone who needs to ask for binders full of women,” a reference to Mitt Romney’s description of how he recruited women for cabinet positions as governor of Massachusetts.

“You want a president who’s already appointed two unbelievable women to the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Former President Bill Clinton also campaigned for Barack Obama on Friday in Wisconsin.

Mitt Romney, appearing later on stage with running mate Paul Ryan, described the Obama campaign as “the incredible shrinking campaign”.

“Have you been watching the Obama campaign lately?” Mitt Romney told supporters at the Dayton Beach bandshell.

“They have no agenda for the future, no agenda for America, no agenda for a second term. It’s a good thing they won’t have a second term.”

Mitt Romney said the Obama campaign had been “reduced to petty attacks and silly word games”.

Recent polls show an ever-tightening race, including in key election states.

A CNN poll on Friday suggested Mitt Romney has a slender 1% lead in Florida, within the poll’s margin of error. A separate poll gave a similar edge to Mitt Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Both candidates are also trying to gain as many votes as possible through early voting, already under way in many states across the US. Election day itself is Tuesday 6 November.

With the election now less than three weeks away, newspapers are beginning to hand out their endorsements. On Friday, Barack Obama won the endorsement of the Salt Lake Tribune – despite the city being home to Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.

Elsewhere, The Tennessean, which often endorses Democratic candidates for president, chose Mitt Romney.

It was also reported on Friday that seven of the key “swing states” in the US election had seen their unemployment figures fall over the past 12 months.

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A CNN poll of the U.S. vice-presidential debate watchers released following Thursday’s matchup between Republican Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden showed 48% of respondents named Ryan the winner and 44% said Biden won.

The margin between the two candidates was within the poll’s five point sampling error.

A poll taken immediately after last week’s first presidential debate showed a much more decisive victory for Mitt Romney.

Sixty seven percent of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious.

Vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan have begun their one and only debate, as polling show the US election race tightening.

Vice-President Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, clashed for 90 minutes at a college in Kentucky.

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US vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan clashed sharply in their only debate, amid tightening polls ahead of the 6 November election.

Thursday night’s debate saw feisty exchanges on national security, the economy, taxes and healthcare.

Democrat Joe Biden was aggressive, frequently interrupting his rival as he defended President Barack Obama.

Republican Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan was comparatively calm in his first debate on the national stage.

The head-to-head came as Democrats try to rejuvenate their campaign after what was widely seen as a poor debate performance by Barack Obama last week.

The Republican challenger, former Massachusetts governor and businessman Mitt Romney, has gained steadily in the polls as a result.

The president has acknowledged he was “too polite”, and it appeared his campaign unleashed Joe Biden on Thursday night to attack Mitt Romney on taxes, government spending, the economy and other issues.

The vice-president repeatedly cut off Paul Ryan, chuckling, rolling his eyes and raising his hands in apparent exasperation, even as he referred to his rival as “my friend”.

But Paul Ryan seemed not to be rattled. His goal was to defend Mitt Romney’s recent gains against a renewed onslaught from Barack Obama, analysts said.

On stage at Centre College in Kentucky, the vice-presidential candidates jousted as moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News sought to keep order.

The debate opened with an exchange on Libya, where a US ambassador was killed last month in what the Obama administration now calls a terrorist attack.

Joe Biden defended the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, as well as its initially inaccurate characterization of the incident as a reaction to an anti-Islamic video made in the US.

And he pivoted to attack Mitt Romney, saying the Republican’s decision to hold a political press conference the morning after the attack was “not presidential leadership”.

In one of many barbs, he said Paul Ryan’s criticisms of the administration’s handling of the crisis were “a bunch of malarkey. Not a single thing he said is accurate”.

Paul Ryan, meanwhile, said the administration had disregarded diplomats’ requests for more security in Libya.

And in a charge he repeated later, Paul Ryan said: “What we are watching on our TV screens is the unravelling of the Obama foreign policy.”

The men argued about Iran and the US relationship with Israel, but showed little substantive difference between their tickets’ respective policies.

“When Barack Obama was elected, [Iran] had enough fissile material – nuclear material to make one bomb,” Paul Ryan said.

“Now they have enough for five.”

Joe Biden said international sanctions against Iran had crippled that nation’s economy, and challenged Paul Ryan to clarify where Republican policy on Iran differs from the administration’s.

“So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk, what are they talking about?” he asked.

On the economy, Joe Biden said the president had inherited a nation teetering on ruin – a result, he said repeatedly, of the Republican policies of George W Bush.

And he defended the president’s remedies, especially a programme – that Mitt Romney opposed – to save US auto manufacturers from bankruptcy.

“We knew we had to act for the middle class,” Joe Biden said.

“We immediately went out and rescued General Motors.”

He added: “What did Romney do? Romney said, <<No, let Detroit go bankrupt>>.”

Joe Biden also unleashed a broadside against Mitt Romney’s recently publicized comments that the 47% of Americans who pay no federal income tax are dependent on government, consider themselves victims, and should take responsibility for themselves.

“I’ve never met two guys who are more down on America across the board,” he said, referring to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Paul Ryan sought to deflect the attack with a story about Mitt Romney’s personal generosity and by referring to Joe Biden’s own record of verbal blunders.

He acknowledged Barack Obama had inherited an economy near collapse, but added: “We’re going in the wrong direction.”

He noted the continuing high unemployment rate and other grim statistics.

“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” the congressman said, promising that Mitt Romney’s tax plans would add jobs and promote economic growth.

Later, the two outlined their competing plans on the Medicare healthcare programme for over-65s.

Joe Biden defended the administration’s 2010 health insurance overhaul, dubbed Obamacare; Paul Ryan derided it as a government takeover of the healthcare industry and repeated a disputed assertion that Barack Obama had pulled money from Medicare in order to fund it.

With the election less than four weeks away, the rivals were tasked with keeping their respective campaigns competitive, as new polls suggest Mitt Romney has narrowed or erased Barack Obama’s lead in several key swing states.

The two candidates are virtually tied in Florida and Virginia while Barack Obama still leads in Ohio, but by a slimmer margin.

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US vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are set to meet in their only debate, as polling suggests the election race is tightening.

Vice-President Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, will clash for 90 minutes in Danville, Kentucky.

Democrats are hoping to change the campaign narrative after what was widely seen as a poor performance by President Barack Obama last week.

Barack Obama said on Wednesday he had been “too polite” to his rival, Mitt Romney.

The Obama campaign has since accused Mitt Romney, a Republican former business star and Massachusetts governor, of shifting his policy positions and of lying during their meeting in Denver, Colorado last week.

Thursday’s debate will be moderated by Martha Raddatz, senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News, and will cover both domestic and foreign policy.

It is set to begin at 21:00 EST at Centre College, a small liberal arts university about 80 miles from the city of Louisville.

The debate will be split into nine 10-minute segments.

Vice-President Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan will clash for 90 minutes in Danville

Vice-President Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan will clash for 90 minutes in Danville

The two vice-presidential candidates are tasked with keeping their respective campaigns competitive, as new polls suggest Barack Obama’s lead in several key swing states has been somewhat erased by Mitt Romney.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Thursday showed Mitt Romney making gains in three states said to be essential to his presidential hopes.

The two candidates are virtually ties in Florida and Virginia while Barack Obama still leads in Ohio, but by a decreased margin. The Romney campaign has added extra campaign stops in Ohio in the coming weeks, aware that no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio.

Also on Thursday, a New York Times/CBS News poll suggested that likely voters in Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin – all states “in play” on 6 November – gave Mitt Romney stronger marks for leadership than previously.

However, the new poll showed no sharp movements in support for either candidates.

Joe Biden, 69, is known for his frank but folksy manner and foreign policy experience, while Paul Ryan, 42, is known as the Republicans’ budget hawk, serving in Congress for 14 years.

Both have kept lower profiles in the past week as they prepared for the debate.

“Joe just needs to be Joe,” Barack Obama told ABC News on Wednesday.

“Congressman Ryan is a smart and effective speaker. But his ideas are the wrong ones.”

The president played down the importance of his own first debate performance, saying: “What’s important is the fundamentals of what this race is about haven’t changed.”

Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod told CBS on Thursday that he believes “the big challenge for [Biden] is to pin Congressman Ryan down”.

“Right now the Romney campaign is running away from some of their positions like unwanted stepchildren.”

Mitt Romney expressed confidence in his running mate at a campaign stop in Ohio: “I think Paul Ryan will do great.”

The Wisconsin representative himself said he was not intimidated by Joe Biden.

“Joe Biden’s one of the most experienced debaters we have in modern politics,” Paul Ryan told reporters.

“But the Achilles’ heel he has is President Obama’s record.”

The debate is expected to focus on the federal budget plans Paul Ryan put forward as the chair of the House budget committee.

While the Obama campaign has sought to portray Paul Ryan’s place on the Romney ticket as an endorsement of the Ryan plan, the Romney campaign has worked to play down that impression.

“You have to remember that there is [a] Romney-Ryan ticket and there’s one presidential candidate,” Mitt Romney adviser Kevin Madden said.

“So the focus again will be on what Governor Romney’s plan is for reforming Washington.”

Joe Biden is said to have studied Paul Ryan’s most recent budget plan during his debate preparations.

The event is not expected to draw the approximately 70 million people who watched four years ago when Joe Biden debated Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

That debate did little to change the 2008 campaign but helped Sarah Palin after a series of disastrous interviews.

“Normally vice-presidential debates are good political theatre and sort of interesting from a talent scout standpoint, as you evaluate the up-and-comers on the political stage,” Alan Schroeder, author of a book on presidential debates, told the Associated Press.

“But this year could be different because of the negative reviews of Obama’s performance. That heightens expectations for this second debate.”


President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are making final preparations for the first of three crucial presidential debates.

With just 34 days to go until election day, Wednesday’s Denver debate will focus on domestic policy issues.

Mitt Romney has long criticized the president for his economic record, but is likely to face questions over his own tax plans and immigration policy.

Barack Obama has opened up a narrow lead in the race over the past month.

He leads Mitt Romney in national polls and in many recent polls conducted in the swing states that will decide the election.

The latest national survey, released on Tuesday by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, shows Barack Obama leading, but by just 49% to 46%.

Mitt Romney has struggled in the polls since a secretly filmed recording emerged of him telling a private fundraising event that the 47% of Americans who did not pay income tax viewed themselves as “victims” and were dependent on government help.

Wednesday’s debate at the University of Denver will be the first time voters across the US have had the chance to see Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on stage together.

Both men have already been on the campaign trail for months, and used their prime-time speaking slots at the recent party conventions to make their case to voters.

An even bigger audience is expected for this first debate: the opening head-to-head of the 2008 election attracted more than 50 million TV viewers across the US.

The candidates’ body language will be heavily scrutinized, as will their tone of voice and how they handle themselves under pressure. Media pundits and campaign spin doctors will attempt to seize on any gaffe or mis-statement in an effort to claim victory.

Both campaigns have been playing down their man’s prospects in the run-up to the debate, with Barack Obama praising his opponent’s debating skills and Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan insisting that one debate alone will not change the campaign.

Nevertheless, both candidates’ messages are well-honed, and their sharp words for each other are familiar to millions of swing-state voters who have faced a onslaught of mostly negative TV advertisements in recent months.

Mitt Romney’s campaign is based around his belief that Barack Obama’s stewardship of the US economy has been a dismal failure. He points to an enduringly high unemployment rate (currently 8.1%) and poor job growth, and says his experience in business will turn the US economy around.

Barack Obama, by contrast, says his opponent offers little except a rehashing of the “failed” Republican policies that caused the economic crash of 2008.

The president proposes tax rises for the wealthiest Americans to help reduce the federal budget deficit, and says his opponent’s plans would hurt the middle class.

But critics say neither man has fully fleshed out his economic policies, and doubts remains about how either Republican or Democrat will tackle the $15 trillion US deficit.

The two candidates have been largely absent from the campaign trail in recent days, shutting themselves away with aides for hours of rigorous preparation and practice.

Mitt Romney, who is known for his meticulous approach to debates, arrived in Denver on Monday and has been using Ohio Senator Rob Portman to play the role of Barack Obama.

The president, meanwhile, has been preparing in Las Vegas, Nevada, with 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry reportedly playing Mitt Romney.

With the principals waiting in the wings, Tuesday saw vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan take centre stage.

Joe Biden stole the headlines, telling a campaign rally in North Carolina that the US middle class had been “buried” for four years. The remark was seized on gleefully by the Romney campaign.

“Of course the middle class has been buried,” Paul Ryan said in Iowa later on.

“They’re being buried by the Obama administration’s economic failures.”

Presidential election debates 2012:

October 3rd: Denver, Colorado. Domestic policy. Moderated by Jim Lehrer (PBS)

October 11th: Danville, Kentucky. Vice-presidential debate. Moderated by Martha Raddatz (ABC)

October 16th: Hempstead, New York. Town-hall style foreign policy debate. Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN)

October 22nd: Boca Raton, Florida. Moderator: Bob Schieffer (CBS)

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The dates and venues have been announced for the 2012 Presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. The date for the Vice Presidential debate has also been announced.

Tickets – Tickets for each debate are controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates and are extremely limited since the debates are primarily produced for television. The majority of tickets are distributed to host university students and faculty through a lottery system.

TV Channels – Each debate will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among others.

Live Stream – Each debate will be streamed live online.

October 3, 2012

Topic: Domestic policy

Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Location: University of Denver in Denver, Colorado (Tickets)

Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates

Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney

Moderator: Jim Lehrer (Host of NewsHour on PBS)

The debate will focus on domestic policy and be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by the moderator and announced several weeks before the debate.

The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the topic.

October 11, 2012

Topic: Foreign and domestic policy

Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Location: Centre College in Danville, Kentucky (Tickets)

Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates

Participants: Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan

Moderator: Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent)

The debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics and be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the question.

October 16, 2012

Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy

Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York (Tickets)

Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates

Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney

Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)

The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. Candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.

October 22, 2012

Topic: Foreign policy

Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Location: Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida (Tickets)

Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates

Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney

Moderator: Bob Schieffer (Host of Face the Nation on CBS)

The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate and will focus on foreign policy.