Romney, Obama Keep Up Campaign Sniping Attacks

The campaign rhetoric continues to heat up. On Fox News Monday, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the Obama campaign was off base in demanding he release more tax returns. Meantime, President Obama traveled to Ohio where he held a town hall meeting with voters.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

Here's what's happening in the presidential race. Republican Mitt Romney is attacking President Obama for cronyism. Romney contends that Obama campaign donors got alternative energy grants.

MONTAGNE: Romney is trying to return to the offensive after being slammed over his own record. President Obama and his campaign have been questioning Romney's business background.

INSKEEP: And the candidates, as well as their backers, are raising money for more campaigning. An independent group supporting Romney says it raised $20 million in June.

MONTAGNE: In the three months that ended in June, the fundraising operation for Romney's campaign says it raised $140 million.

INSKEEP: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson has been traveling with the target of that spending: President Obama.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: The Obama campaign has been pummeling Romney for outsourcing jobs when he ran a private equity firm. Yesterday, at a town hall meeting in Cincinnati, President Obama offered a new twist on that attack, charging that Romney's economic policies would have the same result.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOWN HALL MEETING)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There's a new study out by non-partisan economists that says Governor Romney's economic plan would, in fact, create 800,000 jobs. There's only one problem: The jobs wouldn't be in America.

(APPLAUSE)

They would not be in America.

(APPLAUSE)

They'd be in other countries.

LIASSON: The president was citing an analysis in the journal Tax Notes that said Romney's plan to eliminate taxes on corporation's foreign income would encourage companies to shift their operations overseas. The Romney campaign is firing back. In an interview on Fox News yesterday morning, Romney accused the president of trying to divert attention from his own failure to create jobs.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

MITT ROMNEY: A campaign based on falsehood and dishonesty does not have long legs. In my opinion, the issue people care about is who can get the American economy going again.

LIASSON: In an effort to get back on offense after days of responding to attacks on his tenure at Bain Capital and his refusal to release more than two years of tax returns, Romney accused the president of political cronyism.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

ROMNEY: This is a tough time for the people of America. But if you're a campaign contributor to Barack Obama, your business may stand to make - get billions of dollars, or hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from the government. I think it's wrong. I think it stinks to high heaven.

LIASSON: And the Romney campaign sent out a memo from its pollster, saying the attacks against Romney weren't working because the race has been tightening in Romney's favor.

But the Obama campaign is confident, and it points to Romney's unprecedented decision on Friday to give five network interviews - unusual for a politician who has, in general, kept a low profile with the national media other than Fox News.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.

LIASSON: The Obama campaign released a new ad...

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

ROMNEY: (Singing) Oh beautiful for spacious skies for...

LIASSON: ...set to the soundtrack of Romney singing "America the Beautiful."

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

ROMNEY: (Singing) America. America. God sheds...

LIASSON: It features headlines about Romney's Swiss Bank accounts and offshore funds in the Cayman Islands. Then the Romney campaign released its version of a singing candidate ad.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

OBAMA: (Singing) I'm...

LIASSON: Theirs is a web video featuring President Obama's short tenor solo...

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

OBAMA: (Singing) ...so in love with you.

LIASSON: ...over ominous headlines about Democratic donors receiving White House perks.

Romney had no public events yesterday. He appeared at a fundraiser at the River Hill Country Club in Jackson, Mississippi. Back in Ohio, President Obama was trying to fire up the troops at the Cincinnati Music Hall.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

OBAMA: If I see an elderly couple, I think about my grandparents and everything they did for me. And when I see this young lady asking about her dad, I think about my daughters. I see myself in you.

LIASSON: He was trying to remind voters of one advantage polls show he has over Mitt Romney: his ability to relate to ordinary people.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

OBAMA: My most important job is fighting for you and that basic American idea that if you work hard in this country, you can succeed.

LIASSON: Mitt Romney will be campaigning in Ohio, too. He'll be back in the state on Wednesday.

Mara Liasson, NPR News.

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