Obama, Romney Campaigns Each Focus on Rival Candidate’s Past Statements

Posted September 20th, 2012 at 2:45 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is increasing his differences with President Barack Obama about the role of government, as he tries to recover from a videotape that showed him calling most of the voters who side with Mr. Obama as believing they are entitled to taxpayer-funded benefits.

In an opinion piece published Wednesday in the USA Today newspaper, Mr. Romney says Mr. Obama's presidency has brought on a “stagnant economy that fosters government dependency.” He expanded upon that theme later in the day at a fundraiser in Atlanta, Georgia, telling supporters Mr. Obama's policies will “kill the American entrepreneurship that's lifted our economy over the years.”

He insisted that although both he and the president care about the poor and middle-income Americans, his policies, and not Mr. Obama's, would actually help them.

The Romney campaign focused on recorded comments made by the president in 1998, when he was an Illinois state lawmaker. In the recording, Mr. Obama appears to voice support for a government role in redistributing wealth.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the Romney campaign's release of the recording a “desperate” effort to “change the subject.”

Mr. Romney has come under a wave of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans over remarks he made at a private fundraiser in May, in which he said that nearly half of U.S. voters who support Mr. Obama are “victims” dependent on government benefits, and that he would not “worry about those people.” The remarks, which were secretly videotaped, were released Monday by the liberal magazine Mother Jones.

Mr. Obama said during a Tuesday appearance on CBS television's “Late Show with David Letterman” that whoever occupies the White House represents the entire country.

Mr. Romney, a retired multi-millionaire businessman, echoed Mr. Obama's sentiments Wednesday during an interview in Miami, Florida, for the Spanish-language television network Univision. He said his campaign “is about the 100 percent in America.” He later held a rally for Hispanic voters, a crucial voting group both he and Mr. Obama are working to attract.

Supporters of the former Massachusetts governor have raised concerns about Mr. Romney's campaign after a series of missteps, including his response to anti-American protests in Egypt and the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. He has begun trailing the president in polling of likely voters across the nation and in several states seen as critical to his hopes for the presidency.