Mitt Romney demanded Monday that President Barack Obama back away from his persistent attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital, advising that it would be better "if you spent some time speaking about your record."
"What does it say about a president whose record is so poor that all he can do in this campaign is attack me," Romney said in a nationally broadcast interview Monday.
Obama said an interview broadcast Monday that he has run mostly positive campaign ads but said they have not been given much attention in the media.
In his interview on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends," Romney was asked whether Obama should apologize for a series of statements and campaign commercials suggesting that Romney has not been truthful in his accounts of his record as head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm.
Romney responded, "I think when people have accused you of a crime, you have every reason to go after them pretty hard."
The latest exchange of barbs came as Obama prepared to hold a town meeting in Ohio, a critical state for both candidates, and Romney was ready to join Louisiana Gov. Bobby Rindal on a fundraising trip in the Deep South.
Obama's campaign has been arguing that Romney's record at Bain Capital indicates that jobs were shipped overseas under his watch. That pitch has taken on a large amount of gravitas at a time when the nation's unemployment rate remains above 8 percent and millions are out of work.
Asked about this, Romney said that he was "very proud of the record I had in my business career." He added: "I'd say to the president, wouldn't it be interesting Mr. President, wouldn't it be interesting if you spent some time speaking about your record."
"When millions upon millions of dollars are given by the Obama administration to the businesses of campaign contributors, that's a real problem, particularly at time when the middle class is really suffering in this country," the former Massachusetts governor said. "This is a tough time in America. But if you're a contributor to Barack Obama your business may stand to get billions or hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from the government. I think it's wrong. I think it stinks to high heaven."
Obama, in an interview broadcast on "CBS This Morning" Monday, was asked about the large number of negative ads that have been run against Romney by his campaign in recent weeks.
"If you look at the ads that we do," he replied, "first of all, we've done a whole slew of positive ads that talk exactly about how we need to change our education system, how we need to change our tax code, how we need to rebuild America, how we need to promote American energy. So those just don't get attention in the news."
"I've got a very different approach," Obama said. "And the more detailed we get into what he's saying and what I'm saying, I think that serves the democratic process well."
Romney was asked about statements by Obama supporters, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, that he simply "stop whining" about the Obama attacks.
He responded, "The best offense is to look at the president's record. ... He just hasn't been able to do the job he was going to try and do."
"The president has only one thing going and that is constant attacks on me," Romney said. "They're dishonest, they're misdirected and I think the American people recognize that kind of politics is something of the past. It may work in Chicago, but it's not going to work across America."
Romney refused calls by Democrats — and some Republicans — to release several years of tax returns. He said the Obama campaign was only looking "for more things for their opposition research to try to make a mountain out of and to distort and to be dishonest about."
Romney has released his 2010 returns and has pledged he will also release a complete return for 2011, but no more.
Republican Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama suggested at a governor's conference this weekend that Romney do a fuller release of tax reforms.
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