But that debate, on Oct. 22, also came and went with no mention of "gay" or "same-sex" — or any type of marriage, for that matter.
That's not to say the nominees haven't taken stands. Early in his term, Obama helped clear the way for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Last May he embraced same-sex marriage, which Romney opposes.
The gay-oriented group Log Cabin Republicans gave Romney a somewhat tepid endorsement. "If LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter's choice," the Log Cabin Republicans endorsement said. The group said it believed Romney would do a better job of cutting spending and creating jobs.
Those are precisely the issues that have dominated the campaign, often in basic discussions that don't go far beyond platitudes. Both campaigns have warned of the looming "fiscal cliff" — the package of huge tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to hit Jan. 1 — but no one has come close to offering a viable solution.
Meanwhile, advocates for improving schools, fighting poverty, fighting crime and other issues — which have played big roles in past elections — have struggled to get a word in edgewise this year.
When U.S. unemployment exceeded 10 percent in October 2009, politicians said the 2012 election would be about jobs, jobs, jobs. Three years later, that hasn't changed.
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