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Romney and Obama 'still in a tie'

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are still in a virtual tie with the US presidential election just weeks away, according to the latest poll.

It was taken before the furore over remarks Mr Romney made in a secretly taped video nearly four months ago, in which he told a group of wealthy donors that nearly half of Americans believe they are victims and entitled to government support.

The new Associated Press-GfK poll shows 47% of likely voters backed Mr Obama, while 46% sided with Mr Romney. Among all adults, Mr Obama is favoured by 52% of Americans, with 37% for Mr Romney.

In an interview on the conservative-leaning Fox News, Mr Romney said he did not intend to write off any part of a deeply divided electorate, including the elderly or members of the military, who along with the poor often pay no taxes. But he said "I'm not going to get" votes from people who believe the government's job is to redistribute wealth.

Mr Romney has neither disowned nor apologised for his remarks. Instead, he has cast his comments as evidence of a fundamental difference with Mr Obama over the economy, adding the US government should not "take from some to give to the others."

"My course for the American economy will encourage private investment and personal freedom," Mr Romney wrote in an article in USA Today.

Mr Obama addressed the Romney claims in an appearance on the David Letterman talk show. "One thing I've learned as president is that you represent the entire country," Mr Obama said. As for Mr Romney's statement about the 47%, he said, "There are not a lot of people out there who think they are victims" or simply entitled.

Meanwhile, an independent group supporting Mr Obama ran the first television advertisement using the leaked video. The Priorities USA Action ad shows clips of Mr Romney saying 47% of Americans "believe that they are victims" and ends with a narrator saying Mr Romney will never convince middle-class voters he is on their side.

With early and absentee voting beginning in a number of states, both campaigns hope to lock in votes long before election day. The first of three presidential debates is scheduled for October 3.

The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted from September 13-17. While Mr Obama has seen a general upswing in voter opinion, the poll shows 61% of likely voters describe the economy as poor. Just over half think the economic outlook has gotten worse over the last four years. And 57% think unemployment will get worse or stay the same over the next four years. But a growing number of voters thinks circumstances will get better in the coming year - 48%, up from 41% before the Democratic and Republican national conventions a few weeks ago.