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Romney feels weight of Obama's widening lead

TOLEDO, Ohio -- A flurry of polls showing widening leads for U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday heaped pressure on Mitt Romney to use their first head-to-head debate next week to launch a major comeback bid.

Fresh surveys showed Obama cementing his advantage in the key state battlegrounds that will decide the U.S. election on Nov. 6, and putting clear distance between himself and his Republican challenger nationwide.

Obama aides denied Republican claims they were celebrating too early but spokeswoman Jen Psaki did say that Romney's path to the White House appeared to be “narrowing.” “We'd rather be us than them,” she said.

Romney's fading numbers appeared to reflect damage from the release last week of a secretly filmed video in which he said 47 percent of Americans would vote for Obama because they were dependent on government and paid no taxes.

The former Massachusetts governor softened his tone Wednesday, saying that his “heart aches” for people struggling to find work and the government “has a role” in taking care of people who are hurting.

But he added: “we're going to insist these people have the opportunity for work if they can — if they're able bodied — because we're not going to create a society of dependence on government.”

Both men dueled for votes of blue-collar workers in the key swing state of Ohio Wednesday, with Romney appearing with native son and golf legend Jack Nicklaus, and Obama mocking his foe's vow to stand up to Beijing.

“He's been talking tough on China,” Obama said at his own two Ohio events, accusing his challenger of investing some of his personal wealth in firms that outsource jobs to China.

“When you hear this newfound outrage, when you see these ads he's running promising to get tough on China, it feels a lot like that fox saying, 'You know, we need more secure chicken coops.'”

“I mean, it's just not credible.”

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U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with supporters after speaking at a campaign event at The Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center at Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio, Wednesday. (AP)

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