Mitt Romney was accused of desperate 'Hail Mary' tactics last night after he invoked God, reversed his total opposition to Barack Obama's health care reforms and promised to halt cuts to America's military budget in an attempt to revive his electoral fortunes.
With the latest polls showing the Republican presidential candidate several points behind Mr Obama following the party convention season, Mr Romney used the first weekend of the election campaign proper to launch a series of attacks on his Democratic rival.
He even asked his wife Ann to join him for his first appearance in three years on NBC politics show 'Meet the Press', where she defended his character, saying her husband had been "demonised" for his wealth and business success.
The challenger also appeared to make a significant policy shift by saying he would retain key parts of Mr Obama's healthcare overhaul, despite having spent months campaigning for the plans to be scrapped and overturned by the courts.
Mr Romney had hoped to secure a lead over Mr Obama, who was campaigning in Florida yesterday, following the two party conventions, but the latest Gallup poll at the weekend showed the incumbent president leading the race by 49pc to 45pc, a five-point swing in the past two weeks.
Mr Romney went into attack mode, straying from his central theme of the president's handling of the economy to religion, insisting that he would keep God at the heart of American society. "I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my heart," he said, apparently suggesting that Democrats wanted to remove the phrase "In God We Trust" from US currency.
"We're a nation that's bestowed by God," Mr Romney continued at a rally in the critical swing state of Virginia.
He criticised the Democrats for an episode at their convention, where their policy platform made no reference to God in its 70 pages. After the White House intervened, officials re-inserted religious language.
The Republican also accused Mr Obama of an "extraordinary miscalculation" that would weaken the military by agreeing to defence cuts of €55bn (€43bn) next year if politicians cannot reach a spending deal.
Critics have questioned how Mr Romney will achieve his pledge to balance the budget without making severe inroads into the $700bn (€546bn) the US spends on defence. (© Daily Telegraph, London)