President Obama makes his way to board Air Force One shortly before departing… (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty…)
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Hours before a crucial debate, President Obama tried to flash some confidence and calm for the cameras.
"I feel fabulous. Look at this beautiful day,” Obama said as he strolled under blue skies at the Virginia resort where he has been preparing for his faceoff with Mitt Romney.
The president has been largely out of sight since Saturday, when he arrived here for three days of intensive debate preparations. After a lackluster performance in the first debate two weeks ago, advisors say Obama needs a strong performance Tuesday night to block Romney’s growing momentum. They have created a crowded schedule of mock debates and briefings for the president.
Asked by reporters about his wife casting her vote for him by absentee ballot Monday, Obama answered: "Thank goodness!"
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The campaign said the president will take advantage of early voting and cast his ballot in Chicago on Oct. 25.
Obama, who walked with advisors Anita Dunn and David Plouffe, did not answer a question about whether Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bears responsibility for the death of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack by dozens of armed men on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya last month.
Clinton, in interviews Monday during a trip to Peru, said she takes responsibility for any security lapses at the facility in Benghazi.
"I’m in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts,” Clinton told CNN. “The president and the vice president certainly wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals” at her department.
In last week's vice presidential debate, Joe Biden said that "we didn't know" of any requests for higher security measures for American diplomats in Libya.
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Obama could face questions about his administration's handling of the attack in Libya in Tuesday night's debate. The first forum, on Oct. 3 in Denver, was limited to domestic issues.
Questions Tuesday at Hofstra University on Long Island will come from an audience of undecided voters. Moderator Candy Crowley of CNN has said she would be prepared to ask follow-up queries.
Political writer Michael A. Memoli contributed to this report
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