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July 17, 2012

Romney to pin 'political payoffs' on Obama

BOSTON (UPI) -- Republican Mitt Romney plans to accuse U.S. President Barack Obama of political cronyism at the expense of middle-class workers, his presidential campaign said.

The coordinated offensive, titled "Obama's Political Payoffs and Middle Class Layoffs," was to start Monday highlighting alleged "systematic favoritism" by the Obama administration toward more than 200 top Obama donors, the Romney campaign said.

The alleged favoritism involved giving top donors federal appointments and lavishing their companies with taxpayer money and special government deals, campaign officials said.

"If you're a political donor to Barack Obama you're going to do fine because you're going to get a payoff," senior Romney campaign adviser Edward W. Gillespie told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

"If you're a middle-class worker you're in jeopardy. You're facing a layoff," he said.

"That's the kind of economy we're seeing with President Obama. His buddies do well, political supporters do well -- they get green jobs, money, and they get stimulus dollars.

"If you're a middle-class worker, you're struggling right now, and Mitt Romney can make things better for you, and he has a plan to do that, and that's what we're talking about while President Obama is trying to talk about everything but," said Gillespie, former counselor to the president in the George W. Bush White House.

The Romney campaign plans to push the theme through online videos, appearances by Romney surrogates and messages tailored to battleground states, The Washington Post reported.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is expected to deliver the attack himself at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania Tuesday, aides told the newspaper.

Campaign officials said they plan to spread the theme through Spanish-language and specialty media and are considering TV ads, the Post said.

Obama campaign officials told the newspaper they saw Romney's attack as weak, in part because they said Romney played favorites by steering tax breaks to some companies over others when he was Massachusetts' governor.

"It's clear that Mitt Romney will do anything to avoid answering serious questions about his tenure as a corporate buyout specialist," Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith told the Post.

"But launching false attacks that only boomerang on his record of cronyism in Massachusetts and the Olympics won't do it."

Concerning confusion over Romney's involvement at Bain Capital from 1999 to 2002 -- when he was running the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City but remained listed as Bain's chief executive officer -- Gillespie told CNN Romney initially "took a leave of absence" from the private equity venture capital firm, but "ended up not going back."

As a result, he "retired retroactively to February of 1999," Gillespie told the network.

The Obama campaign said it was not satisfied with the explanation.

"Either you're the CEO, president, chairman of the board of Bain Capital, as you attest to the [Securities and Exchange Commission], or he's telling the American people that he bears no responsibility for that. Those two things both can't be true," Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"Either you're in charge or you're not. And I think from the information that's been dripping out from independent sources, not from the Obama campaign, is that he was involved in Bain Capital," she said.

Romney has argued he isn't responsible for outsourcing, job losses and bad deals that Bain was involved with after Feb. 11,1999, when he says he left Bain, because he was running the Olympics.

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