At stake is Romney’s chief contention that as a former businessman, he has the experience to create jobs and spur a struggling economy. The Obama campaign has countered that Romney ran a firm that pioneered the practice of sending American jobs out of the country and that his background is one of an investor.
Romney insists that he stepped down from his private equity firm years earlier than federal records indicate
The new Obama ad was set to run in closely fought Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
In a round of interviews broadcast Friday evening, the Republican candidate said he wouldn’t release more tax returns beyond the 2010 and 2011 returns.
‘‘You can never satisfy the opposition research team of the Obama organization,’’ Romney told CBS on Friday.
And he demanded an apology from Obama for the attacks. ‘‘This is simply beneath the dignity of the presidency of the United States,’’ Romney told ABC.
Backhanding the request, the Obama campaign responded with a Web video that shows Romney criticizing Obama in speeches and interviews. Romney is seen accusing the president of not understanding freedom and following an appeasement strategy in foreign affairs, and saying he intends to ‘‘stuff it down his throat and point out that it is capitalism and freedom that makes this country strong.’’
On the flight from Washington to Richmond, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said that Romney ‘‘spends a lot of time asking for apologies, but he spends a lot of time attacking.’’
It wasn’t just Obama, though, pressuring Romney.
‘‘There is no whining in politics,’’ chided John Weaver, a veteran Republican strategist. ‘‘Stop demanding an apology, release your tax returns.’’
Obama said the questions raised in numerous media reports and highlighted by his own campaign aides were a legitimate part of the race for the White House.
‘‘Ultimately, I think, Mr. Romney is going to have to answer those questions because if he aspires to being president, one of the things you learn is you’re ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations,’’ Obama said in an interview with the District of Columbia’s WJLA-TV.
Romney called that ‘‘Chicago-style politics at its worst’’ and accused the president, who’s from Chicago, and his campaign of trying to shift attention from the economy and unemployment situation.
In trying to put the matter behind him and return the campaign to his economic arguments, Romney declared he had ‘‘no role whatsoever in the management’’ of the company after he left to take over the Salt Lake City Olympic Games in early 1999.
Romney acknowledged that he would have benefited financially from Bain’s operations even after he left management of the firm to others. That could open him up to criticism that he gained from investment in companies that sent jobs overseas.
‘‘All of the investors participate in the success or failure of various investments, just like you do as a shareholder of an enterprise,’’ Romney told CBS.
Bain Capital said in a statement that Romney ‘‘remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999.’’
Associated Press writers Philip Elliott in Wolfeboro, N.H., and Josh Lederman in Williamsburg contributed to this report.
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