The Romney and Obama campaigns continued their jousting Sunday over an Obama campaign official’s charge last week about Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital involving either a lie or “a felony.”

Romney campaign officials and advisers were quick to portray Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter’s remark as disappointing and indicative of a viciousness in American politics that Obama took office pledging to end.

President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Cutter’s comment was based on a Boston Globe story that SEC filings show Romney remained chairman and chief executive at Bain through 2002, when he was running the Olympics. The date is significant because Romney argues he is not responsible for the outsourcing that Bain had a hand in after 1999.

Romney himself on Friday demanded Obama apologize for what he called “Chicago style politics” that demean the presidency. (His campaign argues he gave up day-to-day management of Bain when he left.) On Face the Nation Sunday, Romney adviser Kevin Madden repeated the call for an apology.

“He’s not going to get an apology,” Cutter said on the show.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D). (Scott Olson/GETTY IMAGES)

Said Emanuel: “What are you going to do when the Chinese leader says something to you or Putin says something to you? Going to whine it away?….Defend — if you want to claim Bain Capital as your calling card to the White House, then defend what happened to Bain Capital.”

Analysts Sunday noted that the Bain charge-countercharge threw Romney on the defensive, shifting the focus from dismal economic news to Romney’s character. The Romney campaign is fighting back through surrogates and ads portraying Obama as seeking to shift the subject away from the economy through nasty attacks that clash with his 2008 campaign rhetoric.

“This is not the 2008 Barack Obama we thought we were getting,’’ said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and a key Romney backer. “This is not the candidate of hope and change.”

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