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WASHINGTON (CAP) - Although Ann Romney insists that her husband "cuts quite the dashing figure in a pair of swim trunks," and is "actually less pasty than you might have been led to believe," polls show Obama with a substantial lead in one of the most important determining factors of the election process: the swimsuit competition.
"This is my favorite part of the presidential race," said CNN reporter David Lewis. "Voters love to watch the candidates strut their stuff on the Washington runway. It gives them a chance to get to know the nominees in a way that speeches and debates just don't allow."
Added Lewis, "For many Americans, being informed of a candidate's stance on the issues is not nearly as helpful as knowing what he looks like in a bathing suit."
President Obama has already raised hackles among the GOP by allowing the press to photograph him in swim trunks while on vacation several times during his presidency. Opponents have argued that doing so has given him an edge in the upcoming competition.
"It isn't right," said Keith Allen, a spokesman for the Romney campaign. "We believe the flattering photos that the Obama camp has leaked are a deliberate attempt to sabotage the contest. The president already has the unfair advantage of a naturally bronzed complexion and a lean, athletic physique. He's not fighting fair.
"Romney plays quite a bit of golf and swims laps occasionally, but I've never seen him even attempt a chin-up, let alone in front of reporters," added Allen. "And I think tanning is against the Mormon religion. He's working at a definite disadvantage here."
An aide from Newt Gingrich's recently failed campaign has even accused Romney supporters of encouraging Gingrich to stay in the race just long enough to enter the swimsuit competition as a second challenger. The aide suggested that Romney's team was hoping that "even a doughboy like Mitt would look appealing standing next to Newt Gingrich," whose body was once described by an ex-wife as "disturbing."
The Romney campaign has reportedly been investigating whether vice presidential candidates can take part in the contest instead.
"If that could be arranged, you'd better believe Romney will go with Paul Ryan as his VP pick," said CAP News political analyst Fuad Reveiz. "Ryan's fiscal policies are off-the-wall insane, but I've heard his shoulders and back are amazing."
Records indicate that former Republican presidential nominee John McCain also requested permission for his vice presidential candidate to enter the swimsuit competition in his place during the 2008 election, but his request was denied.
Vice President Joe Biden recently told the press that if the rules allow it, he would be glad to enter the contest in Obama's place, despite the president's current favored status. "Trust me, if I'm in this competition, it'll be the first gun show conservatives are actually opposed to," Biden said.
"This guy here knows what I'm talking about, yeah!" Biden added as he high-fived a reporter.
- Molly Schoemann