“The facts are clear: President Obama has a pattern of running dishonest campaigns, and the American people deserve better,” Amanda Henneberg, Romney’s deputy press secretary, said in an e-mail Friday.
The intensified hostility and persistent name-calling dominated the campaign news Friday and signaled that the presidential contest was entering a new phase, moving from relentlessly negative to downright nasty. And in a sign that the tactics were taking a toll on both sides, each candidate felt compelled to conduct a series of television interviews to respond to the criticisms from the other camp.
On Thursday, Cutter, citing media reports, questioned whether it was a potential felony for Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded and led, to continue listing him as chief executive in filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission three years after he said he left, in 1999.
“Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony,” Cutter said, “Or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.”
In an interview with the Washington ABC affiliate WJLA, Obama defended his campaign’s tactics: “Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions,” Obama said, “because if he aspires to being president one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations. . . . That’s probably a question that he’s going to have to answer and I think that’s a legitimate part of the campaign.”
Romney’s campaign called the new attacks “reckless” and said they were evidence that the Obama side was “unraveling.”
But opinion polls suggest that Romney has been hurt by the Obama Bain attacks in key swing states and some Republican strategists have fretted openly that Romney has not responded forcefully enough.
On Friday, in a surprising move for a candidate who prefers tightly choreographed events, Romney sat down with five television networks to respond to the Obama attacks. Romney explained that he gave up managing Bain in 1999 and relinquished all control of the firm despite maintaining an “ownership stake.”
“This kind of statement from the Obama team is really shocking,” Romney told CBS News, referring to the felony charge. “It’s ridiculous, and it’s beneath the dignity of the presidency.” On ABC News, Romney said Obama “ought to say that he’s sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team.”