Mitt Romney lashed out at President Obama over the downgrading of American government debt by Standard and Poor’s credit agency, blaming him for the decision. As Philip Rucker explained:

Returning to the campaign trail here Monday, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney sought to blame the U.S. government’s credit downgrade squarely on President Obama.

Romney said the downgrade by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, which has sparked a sharp drop in global financial markets, “punctuated once again the failure of leadership by the president.”

“It seems that they would substitute Harry Truman’s ‘the buck stops here’ with the new motto of the White House, which is ‘the buck stops somewhere else,’ ” Romney told reporters in New Hampshire. “The truth is, the buck does stop at the president’s desk and he needs to exert the leadership necessary to restore America’s financial foundation, the credibility of our fiscal capacity and restore once again the balance sheet upon which our economy rests.”

Moments later, Romney addressed the downgrade at a roundtable with the Concord Chamber of Commerce. “It’s just blame, blame, blame. It’s a blame presidency,” Romney said.

“You’re the president,” he added. “We expect you to be at a different level, to conduct business at a different level. . . . Stop attacking and lead. . . . I don’t think I’ve seen a more partisan, blame-oriented presidency during my lifetime.”

Recent polling from Gallup has led some analysts to predict that the margin of victory for President Obama or his opponent will come down to ten key states. As Chris Cillizza reported:

New Gallup numbers tracking President Obama’s job approval rating in each of the 50 states makes clear that the 2012 election will almost certainly come down to ten swing states.

In each of those ten states — Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado — the President’s approval rating is somewhere between 44 percent and 49 percent.

(You can see all of Gallup’s data — in map form no less! — at the bottom of this post.)

All told, the states will dole out 148 electoral votes, more than half of the 270 total that either nominee will need to claim the presidency next November. In 2008, Obama won nine of the ten — losing Arizona due in large part to Sen. John McCain’s homestate appeal.

While the Gallup numbers are lower than Obama would like, they reveal that each of the ten states is rightly regarded as tossup between the president and the eventual Republican nominee at the moment.

And the toss-up nature of so many swing states suggests that the campaign to come will matter as Obama seeks to find ways to convince voters that he has earned a second term.

The Gallup data, which was taken from tracking polls conducted by the organization over the first six months of the year, makes clear not only where the presidential race is likely to be fought but also swing states in past elections that might not see as much action this cycle.

Republican candidates are already starting to move into second gear as the Iowa Ames poll looms. As AP reported :

A nationally televised debate, a test vote in Iowa and a candidacy by Texas Gov. Rick Perry — should he decide to seek the GOP nomination as many insiders, activists and party leaders expect — could shake up the Republican presidential race in the coming days.

The entire field of Republican candidates planned to participate in Thursday’s debate in Iowa — the first that will include former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — and most were staying in the leadoff caucus state for a straw poll two days later when GOP activists will indicate their presidential preferences for the first time. Perry planned to be elsewhere, but his likely candidacy was looming large in Iowa and across the nation.

With the first votes of 2012 less than six months away, the week promises to refocus the political world, to a certain extent at least, on the Republican nomination fight after months of debate in Washington over the nation’s debt having largely eclipsed it. That issue, coupled with a sour jobs outlook, last week’s Wall Street sell-off and the nation’s downgraded credit rating, is framing the 2012 campaign, with Republicans using fears of a double-dip recession to criticize President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy.

“He’s hiding on these issues. He’s ducking on these issues. He should be leading,” Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” while campaigning in Iowa. “We can’t find him. ... We shouldn’t have to play ‘come out, come out, wherever you are’ with this president.”

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