WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is preparing to tell voters in the crucial industrial state of Ohio that Republican Mitt Romney's tax proposals would spur job growth in foreign countries including China.
The 2012 race for the White House looks to be very close and hinges, at this point, on which candidate can convince voters they are best suited to fix the stagnant U.S. economy.
The Obama campaign has kept up attacks on Romney's business record, including the drumbeat that companies that his private equity firm invested in sent jobs overseas — the so-called "outsourcing" of jobs needed by Americans at a time of deep economic troubles at home. U.S. unemployment remains at 8.2 per cent and the economy is the top issue for voters who will choose between Obama and Romney in November.
The president also plans Monday to highlight his administration's 2009 bailout of the auto industry, which saved thousands of jobs in Ohio, according to Democrats. Romney opposed Obama's use of massive federal loans to keep Chrysler and General Motors afloat while they reorganized under bankruptcy protection.
Obama is holding a town hall event in Cincinnati, one of the state's most heavily Republican areas. Ohio and Florida again are shaping up as the most intensely competitive states in the presidential race, which is fought state by state.
White House aides said Obama will cite news reports suggesting that Romney's plans for limited taxing of overseas profits by U.S. companies would encourage foreign job growth. The two candidates have repeatedly accused each other of outsourcing American jobs.
The White House said Obama will renew his call for extending the Bush-era tax cuts on all households except those earning more than $250,000 a year. Romney says the wealthiest Americans also should keep their tax breaks because they are the most likely people to create jobs.
Ohio's Republican governor, John Kasich, often notes that his state's unemployment rate is lower than the national average. That has proved awkward at times for Romney, who assails Obama's stewardship of the national economy.
Romney on Monday wrapped up a long weekend at his lake house in the southern state of Louisiana and set out to raise money with Gov. Bobby Jindal — one possible candidate for his running mate.
From afar, Obama and Romney were set to continue a bitter debate over who is more trustworthy and use Romney's time leading a private equity firm as a starting point.
Romney's campaign said Sunday that Obama is willing to say anything to win a second term and should say he's sorry for attacks on the Republican's successful career at Bain Capital. "No, we will not apologize," the president responded, adding that if Romney wants credit for his business leadership, he also needs to take responsibility.
Questions about Romney's tenure at Bain Capital and the fortune he earned there have dogged the former Massachusetts governor as Obama and his allies have said the Boston-based firm shipped jobs overseas while Romney was still leading the company. Romney insists he left the company in February 1999 to take over the 2000 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, but documents suggest he was still in charge as late as 2001.
The exact role Romney played at the firm between 1999 and 2001 is important not only because critics have raised questions about his truthfulness, but also because Bain was sending jobs overseas during that period.
Documents place Romney in charge of Bain from 1999 to 2001, a period in which the company outsourced jobs and ran companies that fell into bankruptcy. Romney has tried to distance himself from this period in Bain's history, saying on financial disclosure forms he had no active role in Bain as of February 1999.
But at least three times since then, 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 Romney's "principal occupation" as Bain's managing director.
Romney's campaign released a new television ad on Sunday asking why the president had stopped talking about hope and change, his signature message during the 2008 campaign, and criticizing him for a barrage of negative ads against Romney.
The Romney release came a day after Obama began running an ad mocking Romney singing "America the Beautiful" as image after image ties Romney to Bain and U.S. jobs lost overseas and to his personal foreign investments.
Romney contends Obama is focused on untruths about his involvement with Bain to distract voters from his failure to guide the U.S. economy to a robust recovery from the 2007-2009 Great Recession.