President Barack Obama again jabbed at Mitt Romney's record with a private equity firm in an ad yesterday that aimed to keep his rival on the defensive just as the Republican challenger's campaign hoped to take advantage of poor economic data.
Obama met Romney's plea for an apology for the attacks with a mocking ad that alleged the firm Romney founded shipped American 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, accused 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."
At stake 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 his background is one of an investor rather than a job creator.
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 2011 taxes.
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. I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people."
Determined to scramble Democrat campaign messages scrutinising Romney's financial dealings, Republicans have sent up a distracting flare: Condoleezza Rice may join the presidential ticket.
It is the oldest trick to use running-mate suspense to keep supporters titillated and to avert the eyes of the media from more dangerous topics.
The insertion into the mix of the former National Security Adviser and and Secretary of State to President George W. Bush came courtesy of a headline on the conservative blog the Drudge Report and gave the veepstakes some instant vim.
That said, the notion was quickly dismissed by conservatives who voiced their disapproval in droves.
A Condi choice may stack up, not least because she is black and a woman.
But she is pro-choice, anathema to conservatives, remains closely associated with Bush and his foreign policy stumbles, and has no domestic policy record.
Radio host Mark Levin said choosing would be "bad politics". He argued: "Not only will Romney be defending Bain up through the election, now he's going to have to be defending Bush and Bush's policies right up through the election. This is a bad idea. No offence, Condi ."
Katrina Trinko, of the right-leaning National Review, added: "I'm surprised. Both Rice's views on abortion [she has said that she is "mildly pro-choice"] and her years in the Bush Administration seem likely to generate controversy."
- Independent, AP