Mitt Romney's new traction in the United States election race was reflected in a poll for the Pew Research Centre yesterday which showed him surging ahead of Barack Obama among likely voters with 49 per cent against 45 per cent for the President.
That is a 12-point swing since the last Pew poll in September.
Other polls showed a smaller, but nonetheless significant, improvement. Gallup and Rasmussen yesterday put the two rivals even nationally.
Obama remains ahead in most battleground states but the race has become tight in Florida and Virginia.
Romney yesterday offered to revive a foreign policy vision of projecting American influence through military dominance and unflinching resolve, an approach, he said, that had been forsaken by Obama.
Citing the recent attacks on the US consulate in Libya, the conflict in Syria and broader turmoil in the Middle East, Romney suggested Obama had led with "passivity".
The speech was Romney's latest attempt to shore up his foreign policy credentials that otherwise have been undermined by perceived campaign missteps, including when he questioned Britain's ability to stage the Olympics, made remarks about different cultures that offended the Palestinians, and arguably bungled with a partisan initial response to the killing of Chris Stevens, US Ambassador in Libya.
Romney's speech was light on specifics, for example on hotspots like Syria and Iran.
On the former he spoke of working with partners to aid the rebels and "ensure they obtain the arms they need", but did not say if the US would supply weapons.
On Middle East peace he said only that a new president could give fresh energy to the process.