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POSTED: October 23, 2012 8:16 a.m.

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Their debates now history, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday open a two-week sprint to Election Day powered by adrenaline, a boatload of campaign cash and a determination to reach Nov. 6 with no would-have, should-have regrets in their neck-and-neck fight to the finish.

From here, the candidates will vastly accelerate their travel, ad spending and grass-roots mobilizing in a race that's likely to cost upward of $2 billion by the time it all ends.

All the focus now is on locking down support in the nine states whose electoral votes are still considered up for grabs: Colorado, Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia. No surprise then, that Obama campaigns Tuesday in Florida and Ohio while Romney heads West to Nevada and Colorado.

Neither candidate scored a knockout punch in their third and last debate Monday, as both men reined in the confrontational sniping that had marked their last testy encounter. And though the stated topic this time was foreign policy, both kept circling back to their plans for strengthening the fragile U.S. economy — Job 1 to American voters.

Closing out their trio of debates, Obama concisely summed up this pivot point in Campaign 2012: "You've now heard three debates, months of campaigning and way too many TV commercials. And now you've got a choice."

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FACT CHECK: Romney flubs geography, Obama goofs on rival's record, in final debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters didn't always get the straight goods when President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney made their case for foreign policy and national security leadership Monday night before their last super-sized audience of the campaign. A few of their detours into domestic issues were problematic too.

Romney flubbed Middle East geography. Obama got Romney's record as Massachusetts governor wrong.

At the same time, they injected a little more accuracy into two leading misstatements of the campaign: Romney's claim for months that Obama went around apologizing for America, and the president's assertion, going back to his State of the Union address in January, that the U.S. military's exit from Afghanistan will yield money to rebuild America.

A look at some of their statements and how they compare with the facts:

ROMNEY: "Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And then in those nations, and on Arabic TV, you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations."

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Analysis: As Obama tries to fire up Dems, cool Romney pins his hopes on momentum; Ohio is key

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney is acting like a challenger who feels he has enough momentum and time to overtake the president by Election Day, two weeks from now.

Judging from Monday's final debate, President Barack Obama almost seems to agree.

Obama was clearly the more aggressive combatant in the 90-minute forum, whacking Romney's personal investment record, truthfulness and overseas fundraising. Romney, meantime, went out of his way to blunt his differences with the president on several key foreign policy matters — supposedly the debate's focus — and to appear calm, moderate and non-threatening.

Romney's approach was one typically taken by front-runners: First, do no harm. Don't stir the pot. Keep the clock running.

Obama's forcefulness appeared chiefly aimed at discouraged Democrats who might not bother voting, rather than at the sliver of undecided voters in the handful of states still in play. Romney is not the benign, acceptable alternative he claims to be, Obama seemed to be saying, and I, your president, am finally willing to fight tooth and nail for a second term after sleepwalking through the first debate, which triggered Romney's rise in the polls.

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Police: Man who shot 7 at Wis. spa bought gun 2 days after court order to turn in firearms

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Prompted by the fatal shooting rampage at a suburban Milwaukee spa, two local lawmakers are pushing legislation to tighten enforcement of gun rules in domestic violence cases.

But it's unlikely their proposed changes would have prevented 45-year-old Radcliffe Haughton from buying a handgun just two days after his estranged wife obtained a restraining order against him. He used the gun to shoot seven women at the spa, killing his wife and two others, before fatally shooting himself.

Still, Sen. Lena Taylor said the shooting highlights the need for better enforcement of laws that require restraining order recipients to surrender their weapons.

"Across Wisconsin there are inconsistent standards, or sometimes none at all, for the collection of weapons owned by domestic abusers," the Milwaukee Democrat said Monday as she and Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber pushed for the bill.

Haughton opened fire at the Azana Day Spa around 11 a.m. Sunday, just three days after his estranged wife, Zina, obtained a four-year restraining order. He was ordered to turn over all of his firearms to a county sheriff, though it's unclear whether he turned in any weapons.

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Lawyers for accused Cole bomber say US claims of war crimes fall short for Guantanamo trial

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — A U.S. military war tribunal is weighing a question that might seem better suited for a history class than a courtroom: How long has the United States been at war?

The question is more than academic for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, whose lawyers are appearing before the tribunal this week at the U.S. base in Guantanamo, Cuba, to seek the dismissal of war crimes charges that were approved by a Pentagon-appointed legal official.

Al-Nashiri faces trial in a special tribunal for war-time offenses known as a military commission for allegedly orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 as well as attacks on two other ships. But his lawyers say that since the U.S. wasn't at war at that time, the 47-year-old shouldn't be tried at Guantanamo.

"The fact of going to war is a decision by the political branches, either Congress or the president or both," attorney Richard Kammen said Monday. "It's not something to be arrived at retroactively by a bureaucrat who is not appointed by Congress because it has huge consequences."

Al-Nashiri's lawyers say that the U.S. wasn't at war until after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and then-President George W. Bush did not certify the existence of hostilities of any kind in Yemen until September 2003.

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Apple expected to reveal smaller iPad on Tuesday; price is big question mark

NEW YORK (AP) — The price tag remains a big question mark as Apple prepares Tuesday to unveil what is expected to be a smaller iPad.

In the case of the "iPad Mini" (the real name is not known), tech bloggers and analysts expect a device with a screen measuring 7.85 inches on the diagonal, making it about half the size of the regular iPad. It would be slightly larger than the 7-inch tablets it's presumably designed to compete with, including Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle Fire and Google Inc.'s Nexus 7.

Apple Inc. is expected to unveil the new device during a presentation in San Jose, Calif., starting at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT).

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In scramble to find weapons, Syrian rebels score some successes in getting more advanced gear

ALEPPO, Syria (AP) — It was long past midnight, but the rebel commander couldn't sleep until his fighters returned from the Turkish border with the latest shipment of gear meant to help them battle the Syrian army. Wearing camouflage pants and black flip-flops, he waited anxiously, his eyes bloodshot.

In the morning, his team arrived with their prize: a single suitcase of night-vision goggles. For the first time, his brigade's snipers would be able to strike back at night against regime snipers who already have night-vision capabilities in the street-by-street fights for territory in the battleground city of Aleppo.

"We need one for every fighter," said the commander, Osama, who leads one of the rebel brigades fighting in Aleppo. Still, the small number in the shipment "is better than nothing. We will surprise the enemy when we start using them." He said the goggles were provided by a "sympathizer" in Europe, but refused to elaborate.

Piece by piece, Syria's rebels are slowly expanding their arsenal and getting their hands on more advanced weapons. The process still appears to be haphazard and improvised, far from the reliable, organized pipeline that rebels have sought for much of the 19-month-old uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad. Instead, it often remains a scramble by individual units in the highly fragmented rebel forces to obtain what they can. Most units still rely on their staple arsenal of automatic weapons, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades, adapted to fit their needs.

But there have been notable advances. Most importantly, anti-aircraft missiles have made their first appearances in rebel hands in recent weeks, a weapon that some fighters boast could turn the tide against the regime.

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'White Birthday'? After 2-year campaign, Seattle man persuades Billy Idol to play his party

SEATTLE (AP) — Michael Henrichsen has ideas about how he might celebrate his 26th birthday this week.

First, Billy Idol rolls up in a limo and tells him to hop in. There are women everywhere. And later, when the British rock icon takes the stage and rips into "Rebel Yell," bras start flying and 1,800 of his closest friends go wild.

Far-fetched? Maybe not. After a two-year campaign that was part resume stunt, part charity drive and part heartfelt effort to get his far-flung friends together for a great time, the irrepressible Seattle man has actually persuaded Idol to play his birthday party Friday night.

"This is surreal," Henrichsen says. "It should not be happening."

So why is it? In his bedroom, surrounded by Cyndi Lauper and Madonna records, a drumstick he picked up at an Idol show two years ago, and rock posters, Henrichsen explains:

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Giants complete NLCS comeback, return to World Series with 9-0 Game 7 win over Cardinals

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's players, soaked to the core in a driving rain, began running around the field slapping high-fives with fans. Sergio Romo danced through the raindrops and Angel Pagan waved a black Giants flag as he ran, then stayed outside with his daughter well after everyone else had taken the celebration indoors to the clubhouse.

The World Series is back in the Bay Area — two years after the Giants won their first championship in San Francisco.

"We showed up here to win," Pagan said. "And we're going to carry that over into the World Series."

The Giants got there with another improbable comeback, stunning the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals with a 9-0 victory in Game 7 of the NL championship series after falling behind 3-1 at Busch Stadium.

Hunter Pence got the Giants going with a weird double, Matt Cain pitched his second clincher of October and San Francisco rode Marco Scutaro's steady bat yet again.

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Cutler shakes off injury, defense dominates as Bears beat Lions 13-7

CHICAGO (AP) — There was a big gasp going through the stadium as Jay Cutler writhed in pain on the field.

He rose to his feet. The Bears defense rose to the occasion.

Cutler returned after bruising his ribs, and Brian Urlacher made a key fumble recovery to help Chicago beat the Detroit Lions 13-7 on Monday night for its fourth straight win.

It was certainly not an easy night for the NFC North leaders, particularly their quarterback, but they came away with the win after a week off and possibly buried Detroit (2-4) in the process despite getting a major scare along the way.

That happened in the second quarter when Cutler was sacked by Ndamukong Suh and ultimately wound up going to the locker room to have his ribs examined.

 

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