x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Romney tries to focus voters on economy

US presidential candidate Mitt Romney is trying to keep potential voters minds on the economy while dodging questions about a senate candidate he supports controversial comments about rape.

WASHINGTON // Presidential candidate Mitt Romney wanted to keep voters focused on the United States economy yesterday instead of a fellow Republican's comments that pregnancy caused by rape "is something God intended".

With the US president, Barack Obama, spending the day at the White House after a two-day dash across eight battleground states that will determine the tight election, Mr Romney planned what he called a major speech on the economy, the most-pressing issue among voters with less than two weeks left before election day, November 6.

Mr Romney, however, faced questions about the remarks of the Indiana Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, and new questions about his role in a key supporter's divorce.

Court documents released yesterday revealed that Mr Romney created a special class of company stock for Staples founder Tom Stemberg's then-wife as a "favour". But the stock proved to be worth less than its market value.

Mr Romney has tried to ignore both lines of attack, instead accusing Mr Obama of playing partisan politics in an "incredibly shrinking campaign".

The presidential race is not decided by popular vote but on a state-by-state basis. The outcome depends on nine of the 50 US states - Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado - that do not reliably vote Democrat or Republican.

Mr Obama yesterday intensified pressure on Mr Romney to break ties with Mr Mourdock over the candidate's remarks on abortion.

Mr Romney, who appears in a television advertisement declaring his support for Mr Mourdock, brushed aside questions from reporters.

He disavowed Mr Mourdock's comments on Wednesday, but his campaign team said Mr Mr Romney continues to support the candidate.

The Republican presidential candidate opposes abortion but, unlike, Mr Mourdock, supports exceptions in the case of rape.

* Associated Press