US President Barack Obama jabbed at Mitt Romney’s record with a private equity firm in an ad that aimed to keep his rival on the defensive just as the Republican challenger’s campaign hoped to take advantage of poor economic data to gain an edge on the incumbent.
Obama on Saturday met Romney’s plea for an apology for earlier attacks with a mocking ad that charged that the firm Romney founded shipped US jobs to China and Mexico, that Romney has personal wealth in investments in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, and that as Massachusetts governor, he sent state jobs to India.
“Mitt Romney’s not the solution. He’s the problem,” the ad says.
Romney’s spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, fired back on Saturday, accusing the president of being less than truthful about Romney’s record.
“The American people deserve the truth and they certainly deserve better from their president,” she said from Boston.
At stake in the November election is Romney’s chief contention that as a former businessman, he has the experience to create jobs and spur a struggling economy. The Obama campaign has countered that Romney ran a firm that pioneered the practice of sending American jobs out of the country and that his background is one of an investor rather than a job creator.
For three months, the US economy by most measures has faltered. Yet the White House contest has remained locked in place, with Obama holding on to a slight national lead or in a virtual tie with his rival.
Pressure was also building on Romney from within his own party to be more forthcoming with his finances, a day after he declared that he would not release past income tax returns beyond his 2010 tax records and, before the November election, his last year’s taxes
On the sidelines of the National Governors Association meeting, Alabama’s Republican governor, Robert Bentley, called on Romney to release all the documents requested of him.
“If you have things to hide, then maybe you’re doing things wrong,” Bentley said. “I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people.”
Obama campaigned on Saturday in a downpour in closely contested Virginia. The US president is not chosen by a nationwide popular vote, but in state-by-state contests. That makes battleground states like Virginia — which are neither reliably Republican nor Democratic — especially important in tight elections.
Obama hewed to his middle class-centered pitch in remarks in the district represented by one of his top Republican nemeses, House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor. He attacked Romney and his Republican allies for pursuing what the president branded as outdated and discredited economic policies.
Later on Saturday, in Clifton, Virginia, Obama again tried to tie Romney to the loss of US jobs, contrasting himself with his rival.
“I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas,” Obama told the audience of 2,100 at a local high school. “Let’s give those tax breaks that are investing right here in Virginia, right here in the United States of America, hiring American workers to make American products to sell around the world.”
While Obama hammered Romney for a second consecutive day in Virginia, Romney spent time with his family in New Hampshire. The candidate was taking a weekend off from public events. His last public event was on Wednesday and he did not plan other public campaign appearances until tomorrow.