President Barack Obama reclaimed momentum against his challenger Mitt Romney in the US election's second televised debate on Long Island, where undecided voters posed questions. Flash surveys gave Obama the advantage.
Tuesday evening's debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York state, saw a more combative Obama confront Romney - mostly on domestic issues - after Obama's listless performance in their first encounter on 3 October in Denver.
Analysts said Obama delivered an improved performance, with conservative American Enterprise Institute fellow Karlyn Bowman saying: "Obama is back in the game."
Linda Fowler, governmental professor at Dartmouth College, said: "I think the Republicans will be disappointed that Romney didn't put him away, and the Democrats will be reassured that the president is in full press now."
Romney tackles Obama on jobs
Romney delivered stinging indictments of Obama's economic record, accusing the president of failing to restore speedy jobs growth and cut ballooning deficits.
"The president wants to do well, I understand, but the policies he put in place have not let the economy take off as it could have," Romney said.
Obama replied that Romney had invested in companies in China that were pioneers of outsourcing of US jobs.
Obama challenged Romney repeatedly on his corporate past while also rebuking Romney over his recent criticism of the White House's handling of the attack in Libya last month when militants killed a US ambassador and three other Americans.
"The suggestion that anybody in my team, whether it's a secretary of state, our UN ambassador, anybody on my team, would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive," Obama said while staring at Romney.
Both candidates roamed the stage to respond directly to questioners and bickered frequently about the rules and who had exceeded his time.
With just three weeks remaining until the election on 6 November, surveys indicate that Obama has the edge. A Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll on Tuesday put Obama on 46 percent and Romney on 43 percent.
A Gallup/USA Today poll showed, however, that Romney was ahead by four percentage points in the 12 most contested states.
ipj/sej (Reuters, AFP, dpa)