Washington: Republican challenger Mitt Romney went on the offensive against Barack Obama in a fiery speech in a key state in the presidential campaign, accusing Obama of caring more about keeping his own job than he does about the 8.2 percent of American workers who are unemployed.
Romney, campaigning in Ohio on Wednesday, told supporters the president had held 100 fundraising events over the past half year but did not once meet with his jobs council.
The wealthy Romney was trying to regain the offensive as he has come under fresh demands from Democrats and a growing number of Republicans that he release more income tax returns. Romney has only released his tax documents for 2010 and partial estimates for last year. That breaks a tradition started by Romney's father, George, who released 12 years of tax papers when he ran for president in 1968.
Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the public deserves transparency about Romney's wealth and record of tax payments. Similar calls have come from Republicans such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Olympia Snowe. The conservative National Journal also said the former Massachusetts governor needed to open his books and get the matter behind him.
The intensity of the presidential contest has reached a level not normally seen in the languid days of summer, reflecting the narrow margin that is likely to decide the next resident of the White House.
As he campaigns in Midwestern states that he must win in order to succeed in the state-by-state battle for the presidency, Romney has stepped up the verbal assaults on Obama's record and political philosophy as he attempts to counter the growing pressure on his tax returns.
Romney seized on comments Obama made last week in Virginia.
Addressing the role of government in the American economy, the president said, in part: "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." He added: "The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."
Romney lashed out at the remarks while in Bowling Green, in keeping with a strategy his campaign says will be a theme for the week, if not longer.
"This is the height of foolishness," Romney said. "Barack Obama's attempt to denigrate and diminish the achievement of the individual diminishes us all." He continued the line of criticism during a fundraiser Wednesday evening in Canton, Ohio.
Obama has been trying to keep Romney focused on matters other than the sluggish recovery from the 2008 financial meltdown, even releasing a TV ad Tuesday that suggests Romney may not have paid any taxes at all for years.
Polls show the economy is most important in the minds of voters who will go to the polls in November.