Romney and Obama trade low blows like it's nearly voting day
By Steven R. Hurst, AP
July 20, 2012, 11:43 am TWN
WASHINGTON -- Republican challenger Mitt Romney blasted Barack Obama on Wednesday, charging that the president cares more about keeping his own job than he does about the 8.2 percent of American workers who are unemployed.
In a fiery speech in the key battleground state of Ohio, Romney told supporters the president had held 100 fundraising events over the past half year but did not once meet with his jobs council.
The wealthy Romney was trying to regain the offensive as he has come under fresh demands from Democrats and a growing number of Republicans that he release more income tax returns. Romney has only released his tax documents for 2010 and partial estimates for last year. That breaks a tradition started by Romney's father, George, who released 12 years of tax papers when he ran for president in 1968.
Obama spokesman Jay Carney says the public deserves transparency about Romney's wealth and record of tax payments. Similar calls have come from Republicans such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Olympia Snowe. The conservative National Journal also said the former Massachusetts governor needed to open his books and get the matter behind him.
The intensity of the presidential contest has reached a level not normally seen in the languid days of summer, reflecting the narrow margin that is likely to decide the next resident of the White House.
As he campaigns in Midwestern states that he must win in order to succeed in the state-by-state battle for the presidency, Romney has stepped up the verbal assaults on Obama's record and political philosophy as he attempts to counter the growing pressure on his tax returns.
Romney also is battling hard-to-deflect questions about his history as the head of Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded and which created his massive wealth, estimated at a quarter billion dollars.
Obama has been trying to keep Romney focused on matters other than the sluggish recovery from the 2008 financial meltdown, even releasing a TV ad Tuesday that suggests Romney may not have paid any taxes at all for years.
Polls show the economy is most important in the minds of voters who will go to the polls in November.
Early Wednesday, the Obama campaign followed up with a web video questioning Romney's claims that he had "no responsibility whatsoever" at Bain after February 1999, despite SEC filings that list him as sole owner and CEO through February 2001.
That is important because Bain was involved in shutting businesses and sending U.S. jobs overseas in that period, a troubling practice in a campaign that depends so heavily on voters' fears about jobs.
Romney's campaigning in Ohio followed on from hard-hitting speeches a day earlier in Pennsylvania, where he accused Obama of believing the government is more vital to a thriving economy than the nation's workers and dreamers.
"I'm convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success," Romney declared Tuesday as hundreds of supporters cheered him on.