Obama rallies supporters in rainy battleground Virginia

Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:16am IST

* Obama campaign launches new ads attacking Romney

* Tension between sides over questions about Bain

By Alister Bull

GLEN ALLEN, Va., July 14 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, soaked to the skin as he rallied supporters during a downpour in the election battleground state of Virginia on Saturday, kept up his attack on Republican Mitt Romney as the rhetoric hardened on both sides.

Standing before about 900 people at the Walkerton Tavern & Garden who stood cheering and chanting despite the drenching rain, Obama attacked Romney's record as head of a private equity firm and contrasted his middle class childhood with Romney's wealth.

"I don't want a pioneer in outsourcing. I want some insourcing. I want to bring companies back," Obama told the crowd in this town near Richmond, his soaked blue shirt sticking to his arms and rain dripping from his face, as supporters chanted "Four more years."

With polls showing a close race for the Nov. 6 election, Obama has constantly painted Romney as a multi-millionare private equity specialist who is out of touch with ordinary voters.

The president continued that on Saturday, reminiscing about humble vacations as a child when his family would travel on a Greyhound Bus and a highlight was being able to swim in the motel swimming pool or using the motel's vending machines.

The Obama campaign also released two new ads on Saturday, one of which played clips of Romney demanding the president apologize followed by clips of the Republican candidate attacking Obama. "Mitt Romney. He sure asks for a lot of apologies. When he's not busy launching attacks," the ad said.

In the other ad, the main sound is of Romney singing "America the Beautiful." Meanwhile, the ad scrolls through lush images of Bermuda and the Cayman Isles to draw attention to the Republican's offshore bank accounts while referencing the outsourcing of U.S. jobs.

The Romney campaign slammed Obama for the ads.

"Every day, President Obama hits a new low," said Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "It is sad and shameful that President Obama would mock America The Beautiful. But sadly it's not surprising for the man who launched his presidency with an apology tour."

APOLOGIZE

Tensions between the campaigns have escalated sharply over Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, which the Democratic president has used to put his opponent on the defensive and switch the conversation from Obama's stewardship of the weak economy.

Romney on Friday demanded that Obama apologize for his campaign's attacks about his business record and questions over whether the Republican was still leading Bain when the private equity firm outsourced U.S. jobs abroad.

Obama has said since Romney touts his business background as one of the main reasons he should be elected president, then Romney should answer questions about when he left Bain Capital.

Obama also suggested that Romney was a deep pocketed candidate who was mainly attacking him on the economy but had not offered suggestions on how to fix it.

"Over the next four months the other side is going to spend more money than we've ever seen in our lifetime on a bunch of negative ads," Obama said, brushing rain off his face. "What these ads are going to do is just say the economy isn't where it needs to be and it's Obama's fault. That's their message."

"That's a plan for maybe winning the election but it's not a plan for creating jobs or helping the middle class. It's not a plan for rebuilding our economy."

Winding down his speech, Obama joked about the bad weather as the rain picked up. "I'm wrapping up. Everyone is wet anyway so it doesn't matter," he said to laughter. "Those hairdos are gone."

Obama had another campaign event in northern Virginia on Saturday as he wrapped up a two day swing through the state before heading to Ohio on Monday. Both states are vital to his re-election hopes in November and recent polls show him ahead in each.

Romney, who has said his business background will help him turn around the U.S. economy and create more jobs, got caught flatfooted this week in beating down Democrats' accusations that he was involved in firing workers and outsourcing U.S. jobs to foreign countries while at Bain.

Romney has said he left the firm in 1999, when he was tapped to lead the Salt Lake City Olympics. But the Boston Globe reported on Thursday that public records indicate he was still registered as a top official at Bain for three more years.

Timing matters because Romney has said since he left Bain in 1999 he was not responsible for bankruptcies and layoffs at Bain-owned businesses after that time. Obama's re-election campaign has used those bankruptcies and layoffs to question the Republican's track record.

(For complete coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign please click on ) (Additional reporting by Deborah Charles; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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