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Obama-Romney showdown starts with a harsh tone
They're off! Obama-Romney contest promises bitter words, and probably scant 'hope' or 'change'
By The Associated Press

MENDENHALL, Pa. (AP) ' The 2012 presidential general election has begun. It won't be pretty.

Tuesday essentially marked Day One of the contest between the two virtually certain nominees, Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

Rick Santorum's departure removed the last meaningful bump from Romney's path to the GOP nomination.

Romney and Obama wasted no time in portraying the voters' choice in dire and sometimes starkly personal terms.

Romney portrayed Obama as a weak leader who apologizes for America's greatness and prefers European-style socialism over robust free enterprise. Obama's allies call such claims nonsense.

Obama said the choice this fall will be as stark as in the 1964 contest between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. That race resulted in a Democratic landslide.

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