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Obama, Romney go on ad offensive, push economic themes in key states

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 5:22 a.m. HST, Aug 2, 2012

WASHINGTON >> President Barack Obama is launching a tough new tax-equality pitch in a TV ad asserting that Republican rival Mitt Romney’s economic proposals would mean cuts for the wealthiest Americans and higher bills for everyone else. Romney hit back with a new spot timed to Obama’s appearance today in Florida and calling the president a “disappointment” for a statewide economic picture that has not improved under his watch.

The latest offensives come as Obama and Romney take their respective campaigns to three of the most contested states: Florida, Colorado and Virginia. It also comes as a bitterly divided Congress pushes toward summer vacation with votes that center on front-burner issues like taxes and spending, but which are mostly symbolic place-holders for November.

The Obama ad, which will air in eight states, including the two the president was visiting today, cites a report by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that argues Romney has paid a lower proportion of his income in taxes than many people of lesser means. “He pays less, you pay more,” the ad says.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior Romney adviser called the report “a joke” and challenged its impartiality and methodology today during a conference call with reporters. 

Romney’s response ad shows footage of Obama giving a speech in 2008 and lamenting the state of Florida’s economy. The spot notes that Florida still suffers from high unemployment, record home foreclosures and more of the state’s residents living in poverty. “Barack Obama: What a disappointment,” the ad says. 

Besides Florida, Obama also was stopping in Virginia. Romney was headed to Colorado to appear with 10 Republican governors, including some mentioned as potential running mates, at an event near Aspen.

Aides said Romney would announce plans today to achieve energy independence by 2020 by boosting domestic production of natural gas, oil and coal. He also will release a new “presidential accountability scorecard” suggesting that Obama hasn’t delivered on economic promises, Fehrnstrom said. He said it was “shameful” that the president hasn’t done more to outline a policy agenda for his second term.

“We hear a lot of rhetoric from this president, but rhetoric does not create jobs,” Fehrnstrom said.

At the same time, Romney has been slow to release specifics about his own plans. His advisers today could not outline how he Romney would achieve his goals on tax reform and energy independence. 

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