US president Barack Obama is set to argue in the battleground state of Ohio that the tax proposals of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney would be good for China and other countries, but bad for the United States.
Mr Obama has campaigned repeatedly in Ohio, a critical industrial state in the Midwest and one that does not reliably vote Republican or Democratic. The few so-called swing states like Ohio are expected to decide the presidential contest in November’s vote.
There has seldom been a US presidential election that looked to be as close. Romney and Obama are battling for the White House against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and 8.2% unemployment nearly four years after the near collapse of the financial system.
Mr Romney, whose Republican party is typically more trusted by voters to handle the economy, has been under nearly constant attack from the Obama camp, particularly on tax policy and the former Massachusetts governor’s history as a businessman.
Mr Romney built a fortune estimated at a quarter billion dollars from Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded in the 1980s.
Over the past week, a row has blown up over when exactly Mr Romney left the firm. He says it was 1999, when he took over management of the 2000 Olympic Games. But recently uncovered filings by Bain with the US Securities and Exchange Commission list him as holding all the top positions in the company as late as 2002.
That becomes important because it shores up Mr Obama claims that Mitt Romney ran a firm that increasingly in that period began closing down some businesses it owned and sent the jobs overseas.
On at least three filings with the SEC since 1999, Bain listed Romney as the company’s “controlling person”, as well as its “sole shareholder, sole director, chief executive officer and president”. One of those documents – as late as February 2001 – lists Mr Romney’s “principal occupation” as Bain’s managing director.
Mr Romney’s campaign said that the president was willing to say anything to win a second term and should apologise for the attacks over Bain Capital.
“No, we will not apologise,” the president responded, adding that if Mr Romney wants credit for his business leadership, he also needs to take responsibility.
Mr Romney told Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends that Mr Obama’s attacks are “misdirected” and “dishonest”. He again said the president is trying to distract voters from his failure to guide the US economy to a robust recovery from the 2007-2009 Great Recession.
“What does it say about a president whose record is so poor that all he can do in this campaign is attack me?” Mr Romney asked.
The challenger’s campaign released a new television ad asking why the president had stopped talking about hope and change, his signature message during the 2008 campaign, and criticising him for a barrage of negative ads against the Republican challenger.
The ad began a day after Obama started running one that showed Romney singing “America the Beautiful” over images that recalled his ties to Bain, US jobs lost overseas and his personal foreign investments.