DENVER -- With 26 days remaining before Election Day and an incredibly fluid electorate after last week's debate shook up the race for the White House, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney continue to articulate contrasting visions as their campaigns attempt to focus voters and the media on completely different things.
Things where the opponent, to put it simply, screwed up.
A suddenly surging Romney and legions of conservatives are incensed that the media isn't paying more attention to the mess in the Middle East and the Obama administration's uneven response to last month's terrorist attack, first dismissed as an isolated protest over a controversial video, which killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
After Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter told CNN that "the entire reason that this has become the political topic it is is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," conservative bloggers kicked into high gear, ripping Cutter for downplaying the American deaths.
Romney blasts Obama campaign's dismissal of Libya attacks
Romney responded directly on the stump Thursday night.
"No, President Obama, it's an issue because this is the first time in 33 years that a United States ambassador has been assassinated," Romney said at a rally Thursday night in North Carolina.
"This is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. This is a very serious issue, these are very serious qustions, and the American people deserve serious answers," Romney said.
Obama focusing on domestic issues, Romney's "makeover"
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, is sticking to a completely different script, focusing on a number of domestic issues in an effort to cast Romney and running-mate Paul Ryan, set to take the debate stage in Kentucky Thursday night, as say-anything liars.
In Castle Rock Thursday morning, First Lady Michelle Obama repeated a stump speech she gave Wednesday in Fountain and Durango -- and numerous lines highlighting her husband's honesty and character.
"I have seen how important it is to have a president who doesn't just tell us what we want to hear, but who tells us the truth," Michelle Obama said Thursday.
Campaigning at the University of Miami Thursday afternoon, President Obama, in sharper language, drew the other side of that picture, casting Romney as phony.
"After running for a year in which he called himself 'severely conservative,' Mitt Romney’s trying to convince you that he was severely kidding," Obama told the crowd.
"Whatever he was selling was not working because people understood his ideas wouldn't help the middle class. So, these days Mitt Romney is for whatever you're for. Suddenly, he loves the middle class, can't stop talking enough about them. He loves Medicare, loves teachers. He even loves the most important parts of Obamacare."
Obama campaign highlights Romney statement on uninsured people
The Obama campaign, as it did Wednesday after Romney's comments Tuesday to an Iowa newspaper on abortion, sought Thursday to draw attention to what Romney told an Ohio newspaper on Wednesday, when he said that people without insurance "don't die in their apartments."
"We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack'," Romney said when the Columbus Dispatch asked about his pledge to repeal Obamacare.
"No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance."
Not only do the uninsured who receive free care at hospitals drive up healthcare costs for those who do have policies, a study by Families USA showed that 26,000 Americans did in fact die prematurely in 2010 as a result of being uninsured.
In a satellite interview with FOX31 Denver Thursday morning, Ann Romney, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said that her husband's plan would continue to provide coverage for people with preexisting conditions like hers who were often denied healthcare until the Obamacare mandate.
Romney hasn't explained how he would force insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions without the mandate that all Americans buy health insurance.
"People need not fear," Ann Romney said. "I think people need to understand that Mitt is a person that cares, because he’s had me out there having very difficult health issues."