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Democrats demand explanation for offshore accounts

SOUTHAMPTON, New York -- Mitt Romney privately raised millions of dollars from New York's elite on Sunday, as Democrats launched coordinated attacks against the presumptive Republican presidential contender, intensifying calls for him to explain his offshore bank accounts and release several years of tax returns.

The line of attack, dismissed by the Romney campaign as an “unfounded character assault,” follows new reports that raise questions about Romney's personal wealth, which could exceed US$250 million. President Barack Obama's re-election campaign is expected to push the strategy throughout the coming week, underscoring their desire to portray Romney as disconnected from the middle-class voters he needs to win the presidency.

“He's the first and only candidate for the president of the United States with a Swiss bank account, with tax shelters, with tax avoidance schemes that involve so many foreign countries,” Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said on CBS' “Face the Nation.” He was one of several high-profile Democrats who spoke out on the Sunday morning TV news shows.

Romney may have unintentionally helped the Obama campaign.

Republican donors driving Mercedes, Bentleys — and in one case a candy red 2013 Ferrari Spider — crowded into a series of closed-door Romney fundraisers in the Hamptons, New York's exclusive string of waterfront communities on Long Island's South Shore. Wall Street bankers and brokerage house chiefs, among others, make the area their weekend playground. Romney's Hamptons swing follows a weeklong family vacation at his lakeside vacation home in New Hampshire.

Voters are split on whether they trust Romney or Obama more to run the U.S. economy, but a majority says that Obama better understands their concerns. The Hamptons crowd, however, saw things differently.

“I think he's a plain talking guy,” said Peter Cohen, the former Shearson Lehman Brothers chief who now heads his own investment banking firm, as he chewed a cigar in his black Range Rover outside a Romney fundraiser expected to generate US$3 million.

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 Kofi Annan agrees to put new 'approach' to rebels 
Protestors from MoveOn.org, the Occupy Movement and the Long Island Progressive march down Meadow Lane during a demonstration against a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the home of industrial billionaire David H. Koch in Southampton, New York on Sunday, July 8. (AP)

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