Total Pageviews

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Romney Delivers a Harsh Rebuke of Obama at Final Stop on Bus Tour


CHILLICOTHE, Ohio - Hours after the vice president said that the Republican presidential ticket wanted to put Americans “back in chains,” Mitt Romney concluded a four-day bus tour with his harshest rebuke of the Obama administration to date, saying that its negative campaign tactics have “disgraced the presidency.”

In a speech that was striking in its stinging sweep, which aides said was animated by personal frustration with the recent tone of the race, Mr. Romney lashed out at attacks that he called “wild and reckless.”

“His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then cobble together 51 percent of the pieces,” Mr. Romney said. “If an American president wins that way, we all lose.”

The latest offense, Mr. Romney said, came on Tuesday, when Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered a speech in Iowa. Mr. Biden mocked Mr. Romney for seeking to undue regulations on big banks. “Unchain Wall Street,” the vice president said. “They're going to put y'all back in chains.” Later, an Obama aide said the White House stood by those provocative words.

Standing in front of a stately town hall here in central Ohio, under a giant banner that read “Victory in Ohio,” Mr. Romney called Mr. Biden's claim “another outrageous charge.”

“This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like,” he said.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have traded barbs for months, but the intensity and frequency of the punch-counterpunch have picked up considerably in the past few weeks, belying talk of an elevated discussion of big ideas that both the Romney and Obama campaigns have promised.

In J uly, a top Obama campaign aide said Mr. Romney might have committed a felony when he signed corporate documents claiming he was chief executive of Bain Capital when he had taken a leave of absence. This month, Mr. Romney made the dubious claim that Mr. Obama is trying to strip all work requirements from welfare programs. Last week, a “super PAC” supporting Mr. Obama released a somewhat misleading advertisement suggesting that Mr. Romney's actions at Bain Capital indirectly contributed to a woman's death.

On Tuesday night here, Mr. Romney said that Mr. Obama had squandered the optimism and hope that had infused his decisive victory in 2008.

“In 2008, Candidate Obama said, ‘If you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters.' He said, ‘If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.' And that, he told us, is how ‘You make a big election about small things.' ”

Mr. Ro mney continued: “That was candidate Obama describing the strategy that is the now the heart of his campaign.”

A spokesman for Mr. Obama, Ben LaBolt, accused Mr. Romney of hypocrisy. His remarks, she said, are “particularly strange coming at a time when he's pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false.”

She added that he seemed “unhinged.”