- Associated Press - Monday, May 14, 2012

President Obama’s campaign is casting Mitt Romney as a greedy, job-killing corporate titan with little concern for the working class in a new, multipronged effort that seeks to undermine the central rationale for his Republican rival’s candidacy: his business credentials.

At the center of the push the president’s most forceful attempt yet to sully the former Massachusetts governor before the November election is a biting new TV ad released Monday that recounts through interviews with former workers the restructuring, and ultimate demise, of a Kansas City, Mo., steel mill under the Republican’s private equity firm.

“They made as much money off of it as they could. And they closed it down,” says Joe Soptic, a steelworker for 30 years. Jack Cobb, who also worked in the industry for three decades, adds: “It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us.”

The ad, at the unusual length of two minutes, will run in five battleground states Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado and is part of a larger $25 million, monthlong ad campaign. Republican officials tracking the ad buy said the Obama team was only airing the two-minute spot on Wednesday in the five states.

Romney campaign officials said they welcome any discussion about jobs. “Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

The commercial will be coupled with a series of events Mr. Obama’s campaign is holding this week in Florida, Missouri, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina to highlight Mr. Romney’s role at Bain Capital, a company he co-founded. Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in a call with reporters that Mr. Obama’s team would highlight Mr. Romney’s Bain record “during the next few weeks.”

Mr. Romney’s campaign was aggressively working behind the scenes to counter the Obama campaign’s Bain message, dispatching senior campaign strategist Ed Gillespie to a conference call with conservative bloggers on Monday to rebut the ad. Mr. Romney’s campaign planned to frame the attacks on his record at Bain as an “attack on free enterprise,” and to cast the auto bailout as an example of private equity at work.

Reinforcing the message, Vice President Joseph R. Biden holds two days of events this week in Ohio, where he’s expected to discuss Mr. Romney’s role as a corporate buyout specialist.

Mr. Romney previously had accused Mr. Obama of attacking free enterprise and called the criticism of his business background an attempt by Democrats to distract voters from the president’s record.

Both candidates were entering a new week in the campaign seeking to shift the focus back to voters’ No. 1 issue, the economy, from social issues that dominated after the president announced his support for gay marriage.

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