Washington: Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney made a splash over the weekend by declaring the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, should not take on yet another attempt to stimulate the struggling US economy. Instead, he called for "something dramatic" without outlining precisely what that would be.
As the former Massachusetts governor and President Barack Obama head toward their party's nominating conventions and the sprint toward the November election, polling shows the contest will be decided by a razor-thin margin with voters casting ballots primarily on their views of which candidate can create more jobs and boost the laggard US economic recovery.
"I can absolutely make the case that now is the time for something dramatic, and it is not the time to grow government. It's the time to create the incentives and the opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses big and small to hire more people and that's going to happen," Romney said in a CNN interview broadcast Sunday.
Both candidates were absent from the campaign trail Sunday. Obama was at the Camp David presidential retreat for a rest during celebrations for his 51st birthday. Romney was at his lakeside retreat in New Hampshire.
The Romney campaign on Sunday released a television advertisement highlighting his recent trip to Israel. He criticises Obama for not visiting the Jewish state. The president last visited Israel during his 2008 campaign.
While in Israel, Romney said that cultural differences help explain the economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians, without acknowledging economic restrictions Palestinians face. The comment prompted accusations of racism from Palestinian leaders.
Romney said repeatedly this past week that his economic policies would create 12 million jobs in his first term. Pushed to explain how, Romney said in the interview, "That's what happens in a normal process."
"When you come out the kind of recession we've had you should see this kind of job creation," he said. "Good things happen when you have a private sector that's thriving."
Campaigning in Indiana on Saturday, Romney attacked what he called "an extraordinary series of policy failures" from President Barack Obama.
Romney so far has been slow to release specifics for his economic plans. He repeated his opposition to Obama's tax plan that would preserve tax cuts passed in the George W. Bush era Americans earning less than $250,000 a year. The rate for those earning above that figure would see tax rates increase to levels in effect during the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s.
Romney would preserve the tax cuts for everyone, although he has not detailed how he would pay for the plan.
Obama contends the Romney plan would end up saving huge amounts for the wealthy and require greater taxes for middle-income Americans to offset the changes. Romney contends otherwise.
"I also hope people understand when they talk about raising taxes on the wealthy — as the president does — he is also talking about the same tax rate that applies to small business," Romney said. "The great majority of small businesses pay taxes at the individual rate so as he raises these taxes 'on the wealthy' he is raising taxes on small business."
Republicans, meanwhile, are accusing the Senate's Democratic leader of lying by passing along an anonymous claim that Mitt Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years.
Sen Harry Reid said last week he had been told that by an investor in Romney's former firm, Bain Capital. But the Democrat hasn't offered any evidence to support the claim and even has said he's not sure it's true.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN on Sunday that he thinks Reid is "lying about his statement of knowing something about Romney" and just "making things up" to divert the campaign from "the real issues."
Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus told ABC that Reid is "a dirty liar."
Reid's spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.