DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Heading into the campaign’s final weeks, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is upping his criticism of President Barack Obama’s plans for a second term, accusing the Democrat of failing to tell Americans what he would do with four more years. The Obama campaign is aggressively disputing the notion, claiming it’s Romney who hasn’t provided specific details to voters.
At campaign events and in a new ad out Saturday, Romney is setting up the closing weeks as a choice between what he says is a “small” campaign that’s offering little new policy and his own ambitious plan to fundamentally change America’s tax code and entitlement programs.
The new Romney ad criticizes the president’s policies on debt, health care, taxes, energy and Medicare, arguing that Obama is simply offering more of the same. The campaign did not say where the spot would air.
“Have you been listening to the Obama camp lately? They have no agenda for the future, no agenda for America, no agenda for the second term,” Romney told a crowd of thousands who gathered in a band shell just off Daytona Beach. “They’ve been reduced to petty attacks and silly word games. Just watch it — the Obama campaign has become the incredible shrinking campaign.”
Obama’s campaign disputes the notion that the president hasn’t outlined a detailed second-term agenda, pointing to his calls for immigration reform, ending tax breaks for upper income earners, fully implementing his health care overhaul and ending the war in Afghanistan.
In a statement sent after Romney’s Friday night event, Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner ticked through a series of policy items, calling them “just part of President Obama’s agenda for a second term.”
On the economy, the president has essentially called for reintroducing legislation that stalled in Congress during his first term. That includes tax credits for companies that hire new workers and funding for local municipalities to hire more teachers, police officers and firefighters.
As for why Republicans would back the same proposals they have already voted against, Obama has told supporters he expects his re-election would “break the fever” on Capitol Hill that led to gridlock during his first term.
The president’s aides are particularly irked by the questions about Obama’s second-term agenda, because they say it’s Romney who has failed to provide voters with details. They point to his refusal to provide specifics about his tax plan or outline what he would replace the president’s health care overhaul with if he makes good on his promise to repeal the federal law.
An independent group backing Obama, though, is trying to renew attention on Romney’s tenure at the helm of the private equity firm Bain Capital. The group, Priorities USA Action, is redoubling its efforts against Romney, re-airing an ad about an AMPAD plant in Marion, Ind. That spot features former employee Mike Earnest recalling being told to build a stage from which officials of the office supply company later announced mass layoffs.
He says, “It was like building my own coffin.” That ad first aired in battleground states in the summer.
Romney aides have said AMPAD was a struggling business to begin with, and Bain overall created many more jobs than were lost.
That ad will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. The new campaign will be in addition to a $30 million effort against Romney policy proposals, the group said.
Monday’s debate in Boca Raton, Fla., with its focus on international affairs, is the third and final between the two rivals and comes just 15 days before the election.