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The criticism has intensified in the days since the Romney campaign offered seemingly contradictory messages on the Supreme Court’s health care ruling. The court ruled that the so-called individual mandate in Obama’s signature law is constitutional, in part, because of the federal government’s taxing authority.

Republicans seized on the explanation and accused Obama of raising taxes. But that raised questions about Romney’s health care overhaul in Massachusetts, which also forces people to purchase health insurance.

A day after a Romney senior adviser declared that the mandate was not a tax, Romney went on TV to say it was.

The president, meanwhile, has launched a two-day bus tour of northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, where he told supporters Thursday that Romney would pursue economic policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. And Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, cited an Associated Press investigation of Romney’s personal offshore investments.

“Why would you transfer your Bermuda business to your wife the day before you became governor? Why did you not want that on your disclosure form?” Axelrod told ABC News, accusing Romney of being the most secretive candidate since President Richard Nixon.

But there is little doubt that the direction of the economy on Election Day will be critical.

The June jobs report arrives amid a number of mixed signals on the economy. U.S. manufacturing shrank in June for the first time in nearly three years, according to a report this week. Private payroll provider ADP reported Thursday that U.S. businesses added 176,000 jobs last month, better than the revised total of 136,000 jobs it reported for May. But shoppers pulled back on spending in June, leading to sluggish retail sales during the month.

Another bad jobs report could undermine Obama’s argument that the economy has shown signs of improvement.

Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.