THE RACE: That other president's race gaining fans

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan waves to the crowd with some of his children in tow, at the Clinton County courthouse in Clinton, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/The Quad City Times, Kevin E. Schmidt) Enlargephoto

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan waves to the crowd with some of his children in tow, at the Clinton County courthouse in Clinton, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/The Quad City Times, Kevin E. Schmidt)

While President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney bone up in Nevada and Colorado for Wednesday's opening debate, back in the nation's capital attention is split between the hard-fought presidential race and baseball playoffs.

The Nationals won the first division baseball championship for a Washington team since 1933 by clinching the National League East race Monday night.

Washington, D.C., has the only ballpark where so many Cabinet members, politicians and other luminaries routinely gather and where fans now are openly rooting for a particular president - one who served more than a century ago, Theodore Roosevelt.

"Let Teddy Win" banners and buttons are everywhere. Fans like 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona say it's time for Roosevelt's 500-plus losing streak to end.

What it's all about is a goofy, rigged, foot race - "The President's Race" - on the side of the field in the fourth inning at home games featuring characters in outsized costumes portraying Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Roosevelt.

Roosevelt always loses.

"Teddy, you are the victim of a vast left-wing conspiracy by the commie pinko libs in this town," McCain said in a video played in the stadium Monday night. "But you can overcome that."

Teddy didn't - despite McCain's encouragement. Maybe next time?

No less a fan than Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggests the team's recent successes could be a good model for the struggling economy.

"Even when they were really bad they were trying to hire, scout, sign young players and look towards the future. That's what our economy is all about," Bernanke told the Economic Club of Indiana Monday. He was asked what lessons economic policymakers could draw from the upstart team's victories.

Hitting Tuesday for the two national presidential tickets were Vice President Joe Biden campaigning in North Carolina and his GOP counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan, with events in Iowa.

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Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APcampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2012

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