While Republicans on Sunday complained that the Obama campaign's latest round of attacks on Mitt Romney are blatantly untrue, unfair and demeaning to the office of the presidency, Team Obama fired off a blunt response: Stop whining.
Spokesmen and surrogates from both campaigns took to the airwaves and hit the stump this weekend, punching and counterpunching over the Obama campaign's aggressive new charges that Mr. Romney isn't telling the whole truth about when he stepped down as head of the investment firm he founded, Bain Capital.
President Obama, who spent much of the weekend barnstorming across swing-state Virginia, said his campaign won't back down on last week's accusation from top staffer Stephanie Cutter that Mr. Romney might have committed a felony by signing financial documents at Bain after he claims to have left the firm.
"No. We will not apologize," Mr. Obama told WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Va. "Mr. Romney claims he's Mr. Fix-it for the economy because of his business experience, so I think voters entirely legitimately want to know what is exactly his business experience."
Ms. Cutter, appearing Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," echoed the president's comments.
"[Romney] is not going to get an apology," the deputy campaign manager told host Bob Shieffer.
She reiterated her contention that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee had either lied to the Securities and Exchange Commission when he said he left Bain Capital in 1999 or that he has lied to the public about his record at the investment firm he founded.
Ms. Cutter and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's former chief of staff, appearing on ABC's "This Week," urged Mr. Romney to "stop whining."
"If you want to claim Bain Capital as your calling card to the White House, then defend what happened at Bain Capital," Mr. Emanuel said.
Mr. Romney on Friday demanded an apology for what he called "Chicago-style" politics after the Obama campaign began trumpeting a Boston Globe story that uncovered SEC documents that indicate Mr. Romney was involved in the firm after 1999.
The Obama campaign says the story proves that Mr. Romney was involved in outsourcing jobs at the firm, but the Romney camp has denounced the attacks as unfair and has singled out the comments from Ms. Cutter as reprehensible.
On CNN on Sunday, Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie explained that Mr. Romney's name may have been on a few documents at the firm because Mr. Romney "retired retroactively."
Mr. Gillespie said with a tone of frustration that the attacks have effectively shifted attention from the president's handling of the economy.
"They want to talk about anything other than Obama's dismal record," he said on CNN's "State of the Union." "And it's working."
On the other Sunday shows, Romney allies tried to put the focus back onto the president.
"This is not the candidate of hope and change. This is a candidate who is hoping to change the subject," Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who is also the object of vice-presidential speculation, said on "Face the Nation."
On the same program, senior Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden said independent fact-checkers already have affirmed that Mr. Romney is telling the truth about his departure from Bain.
Mr. Madden also took issue with the latest anti-Romney commercial from the Obama campaign that accuses Mr. Romney of outsourcing jobs and taking advantage of tax loopholes. The ad also plays a tape of the former Massachusetts governor offering up a slightly off-key version of "God Bless America."
"Look, I find it very troubling," Mr. Madden said. "I think it is troubling that they would mock someone who's singing 'God Bless America.' "
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