Oct 12, 2012 12:22 PM by AP
After their running mates slugged it out in a spirited debate, President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are on deck.
The next debate is theirs, a town-hall format Tuesday night at Hofstra University in New York. With the race so close in the polls, any misstep at this stage could have large consequences.
Obama's performance in the first debate was deemed lackluster by those in both parties and since then, polls show the race has narrowed both nationally and in top swing states.
Romney was campaigning Friday in Virginia then linking up with ticket-mate Rep. Paul Ryan in Ohio. Both states are incredibly important this year. Both went for Obama in 2008 but are now highly competitive.
A day after the scrappy vice presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill were tauntingly heading to Ryan's home state of Wisconsin for a rally. Ryan's presence on the ticket makes Wisconsin more competitive in a contest almost certain to be decided by voters in a handful of eight or nine battleground states.
Not surprisingly, top Democrats said Biden did best in Thursday night's debate in Kentucky. Republicans praised Ryan's performance, belittling the vice president for his laughs, smiles and smirks as his opponent was talking.
The showdown included sharp exchanges about the economy, the administration's handling of the terrorist attack in Libya and the place of government in Americans' lives.
"I think Joe Biden did great. I couldn't be prouder," said Obama, who watched the debate on Air Force One as he returned to Washington from a Florida campaign swing.
Obama was lying low Friday, having dinner at a local restaurant with winners of a campaign contest and then flying to Williamsburg, Va., for several days of debate prep.