In an interview with The Associated Press, Obama said Romney lacks serious ideas, refuses to “own up” to the responsibilities of what it takes to be president, and deals in factually dishonest arguments that could soon haunt him in face-to-face debates.
Obama set up a contrast between Romney, whom he cast as an extremist pushing staunchly conservative policies, and himself, by saying he would work across party lines. It was a seeming play for the independent voters who decide close elections and tell pollsters they want to see the often-gridlocked politicians in Washington solve the nation’s problems.
“I can’t speak to Gov. Romney’s motivations,” Obama said. “What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions, that are very consistent with positions that a number of House Republicans have taken. And whether he actually believes in those or not, I have no doubt that he would carry forward some of the things that he’s talked about. [Romney] has offered himself as a business-minded alternative to Obama and has seized on voter concerns about joblessness and the direction of the nation.
In explaining his accusation of “extreme” positions, the president cited Romney’s call for across-the-board tax cuts that Obama said would mostly help the rich at the expense of everyone else and cost the nation $5 trillion. And Obama alluded to the provocative issue of abortion, suddenly thrust to the fore this week when Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said the female body has a way to “shut that whole thing down” when a woman is the victim of “legitimate rape.” Obama predicted that a President Romney would not “stand in the way” if Congress gave him a bill that stripped away women’s control over their reproductive health.Romney is on record, however, as not opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest or if it will save the mother’s life.
Yet it is the economy that has driven this election and has dominated Obama’s message of a middle-class revival. ”We aren’t where we need to be. Everybody agrees with that,” said Obama, who inherited an economy in free fall and now bears responsibility for a recovery that remains weak. “But Gov. Romney’s policies would make things worse for middle-class families and offer no prospect for long-term opportunity for those striving to get into the middle class,” the president said.
Obama said he is the candidate whose policies have historically helped the middle class on issues that people care about and that shape the economy – education, manufacturing, science and research, Medicare, debt reduction, tax rates, health care, consumer protection, college aid, energy. Williams, the Romney spokesman, responded that Obama has piled up national debt and presided over high unemployment. “Too many middle-class families are going to sleep each night worried,” he said. “This may be the best President Obama can do, but it’s not the best America can do.”
[T]wo changes – the facts that “the American people will have voted,” and that Republicans will no longer need to be focused on beating [Obama] – could lead to better conditions for deal-making.