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Romney says Obama just trying to 'hang onto power'

By Julie Pace
Associated Press


WASHINGTON » Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney charged Wednesday that President Barack Obama is running a campaign "of enmity and jealousy and anger" and called on him to lift the tone of political discourse.

In an escalation of an increasingly acrimonious campaign, Romney went on national television to say he thinks Obama is "running just to hang onto power, and I think he would do anything in his power" to remain in office.

Asked if he was worried that people would think the presidential campaign has become "unhinged," the former Massachusetts governor replied, "I think unhinged would have to characterize what we've seen from the president's campaign."

"These personal attacks, I think, are just demeaning to the office of the White House," he added.

The campaign has been lurching toward a more intensive stage in the wake of Romney's announcement Saturday of conservative Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate.

Even before that, independent groups supporting the respective campaigns had been running increasingly provocative TV ads, including one from a group supporting Obama. That commercial suggested Romney was personally responsible for the death from cancer of the wife of a man who worked at a steel plant that was bought and subsequently shut down by Romney's venture capital firm, Bain Capital.

The tone reached a fever pitch Tuesday in connection with a remark Vice President Joe Biden made to a mostly black audience in Danville, Va. Commenting in response to Republican criticism that the Obama administration had sought to regulate Wall Street too tightly, Biden said the GOP wanted to "unchain Wall Street."

The vice president went on to say, "They're going to put y'all back in chains."

Speaking in Wytheville, Va., later Tuesday, Biden said he had meant to use the term "unshackled." But he did not apologize, and he mocked the Romney campaign for showing outrage.

In his interview Wednesday on "CBS This Morning," Romney said, "I can't speak for anybody else, but I can say that I think the comments of the vice president were one more example of a divisive effort to keep from talking about the issues."

"The president's campaign is all about division and attack and hatred and my campaign is about getting Americans back to work and creating more unity in this country," he said.

Meanwhile, Obama's campaign is launching state-specific efforts to target elements of Ryan's austere budget proposals, expanding beyond its opposition to the Republican vice presidential candidate's Medicare overhaul.

The developing Obama strategy comes as Romney and Ryan make clear they plan to campaign aggressively on Medicare, not run away from it. In person and in a television ad, the Republicans argued Tuesday that Obama is the one who cut spending for Medicare to put money toward his divisive health care overhaul.

Obama was campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, the final day of his three-day bus trip through the Midwestern swing state. First lady Michelle Obama was joining the president, marking their first joint appearance on the campaign trail since May. Romney had a pair of private fundraisers in North Carolina and Alabama.

In states with large military and veteran populations — Florida, Ohio and Virginia among them — the Obama campaign plans to attack Ryan's proposed cuts for veterans' benefits and care, a campaign official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the campaign strategy publicly and requested anonymity.

In Colorado, Ohio and Iowa, the campaign sees opportunities to capitalize on Ryan's proposed cuts to clean energy industries that are taking hold in those states. The Obama team will argue that cutting those investments would essentially cede new energy technologies — and the jobs that could come with them — to countries like China, the official said.

In Nevada and several other states, the campaign plans to push the impact of Ryan's budget on education, citing estimates that it would cut 200,000 children a year from Head Start, an early education program, and reduce Pell grants for 10 million college students.

The campaign launched an ad Tuesday in five states — Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia — that links Romney directly to the Ryan budget's impact on college grants.

Obama's team may launch other paid advertising on elements of Ryan's budget soon. But for now, the campaign is focused on getting its message out in local media and directly to voters through its ample grass-roots network, which still trumps Romney's ground game in some states.

Despite ramping up new areas of attack, Obama's campaign is still eager to link Romney to Ryan's Medicare proposals, both on the national level and in battleground states with a significant number of voters over the age of 65, including Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

The president's pollsters wrote in a campaign memo that Ryan's Medicare proposals are a "game changer" in Florida, the battleground state with the most electoral votes up for grabs in November.

Romney launched a strong Medicare counterattack Tuesday, accusing Obama of having "raided" $716 billion from the Medicare trust fund.

"And you know what he did with it? He's used it to pay for Obamacare, a risky, unproven federal takeover of health care. And If I'm president of the United States, we're putting the $716 billion back," Romney said at a campaign stop in Beallsville, Ohio, as he neared the end of a multistate bus trip that began with his weekend selection of a running mate.

Romney's campaign also released a commercial Tuesday containing the same allegation that began airing immediately in several battleground states, although officials declined to provide details.

Ryan, interviewed on Fox News Channel, said he and Romney believe Medicare can be a winning issue for Republicans in the fall. "Absolutely, because we're the ones who are offering a plan to save Medicare, to protect Medicare, to strengthen Medicare," he said.

Ryan didn't say so, but the budgets he has written in the House both called for leaving in place the cuts to Medicare that he is now criticizing. Romney has consistently favored restoring the funds, and his running mate said, "I joined the Romney ticket."

Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner criticized Ryan's answers, calling the Wisconsin congressman "not ready for prime time."

"First, he attacked the president for the very same Medicare savings that he includes in his own budget," Kanner said in a statement. "In the same breath, he falsely claimed that the Romney-Ryan budget protects Medicare — in fact, their plan would end Medicare as we know it, leaving seniors with nothing but a voucher in place of the guaranteed benefits they rely on today."

The Obama campaign released a web video Wednesday that declares Romney and Ryan "plan to end Medicare as we know it." It features news commentators and liberal analysts such as economist Paul Krugman declaring that Ryan's House Republican budget would mean millions of older Americans would be unable to afford health care.

The video declares that Romney has lied about Obama's record on Medicare, and says Obama's proposal cuts payments to Medicare providers but offers more benefits to Medicare participants.

Romney and the Republican National Committee planned to release a new Spanish language TV ad Wednesday highlighting Obama's economic policies. Romney's campaign didn't say where it would run or how much money they plan to spend on the spot.

Associated Press writers Kasie Hunt in Columbus, Ohio, and Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington contributed to this report.

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peanutgallery wrote:
Obama has been a terrible mistake. The only things he increased are: unemployment, the debt, and govenment dependency. His Presidnecy has been a disaster.
on August 15,2012 | 04:18AM
ya_think wrote:
peanut your preaching to the choir here in Hawaii, 50% of the people here voted for him just because he was supposedly born here. The others because he is a Democrat and most vote along party lines. Very few people here really take the time to vet either one of the candidates who are running. I myself would not vote for him because of his failed leadership and his failed ideas. Hawaii has been ruled by the democratic party for the last 50 years all one has to do is look where we are at to see that this state has one of the worst records for economic growth, they regulate and prohibit small and large business to death.
on August 15,2012 | 06:27AM
NITRO08 wrote:
on August 15,2012 | 07:25AM
loquaciousone wrote:
In her younger days Lingle was a hippie. You ever hear of a Republican hippie?
on August 15,2012 | 07:45AM
EightOEight wrote:
Very condescending. Maybe we just don't believe in plutocracies and laissez faire capitalism, among other things neocons believe in...like Ayn Rand objectivism. Why don't YA think.
on August 15,2012 | 08:38AM
NITRO08 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 15,2012 | 07:23AM
edster48 wrote:
Yes, but the majority of the legislature was.......democrat! They overrode her veto's and pushed thru what they wanted to, stonewalled anything proposed by her administration. Please engage brain before firing up computer, and I think you've had enough kool-aid for now.
on August 15,2012 | 07:38AM
EightOEight wrote:
Stop your whining. You are probably one of those who denies the Republican-led House has done the same thing to Obama. Do you even have a brain to engage?
on August 15,2012 | 08:41AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Whenever I see the Romney/Ryan ticket, I have to wonder on who is running for President on the Republican side. When we talk about ideologies, it's usually the Presidential candidate's that is front and center. In this case, all we hear about is Paul Ryan's ideologies. I believe that the Republican powers know that Romney through all his flip flops has no identity to define.
on August 15,2012 | 07:10AM
bender wrote:
If the President is running so he can hold onto power, then why is Romney running. I would assume so he can gain power. I certainly don't believe Romney or Ryan has my best interest at heart, my bank account isn't big enough for them to care about.
on August 15,2012 | 07:57AM
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