Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a two-pronged strategy for dealing with charges that he is using foreign bank accounts to escape paying U.S. taxes and avoid investing in America.
He is hitting back hard against the attacks by trying to move onto more favorable ground as fast as possible, resuming his offensive against President Obama for what he calls a "failed economic policy."
It's all part of a larger pattern in which each side is ferociously attacking the credibility of the opposition and raising doubts about whether the rival candidate is trustworthy and competent enough to lead the country over the next four years.
Romney's campaign leaders strongly criticized President Obama's call Monday for a tax increase on individuals with incomes above $250,000 while maintaining lower rates for the middle class.
"President Obama's response to even more bad economic news is a massive tax increase," says Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney's campaign. "It just proves again that the president doesn't have a clue how to get America working again and help the middle class. The president's latest bad idea is to raise taxes on families, job creators, and small businesses. Almost half a million fewer Americans are working today than the day Barack Obama took office and we've just come through the worst job creation quarter in two years. Unlike President Obama, Governor Romney understands that the last thing we need to do in this economy is raise taxes on anyone. He has a plan to permanently lower marginal rates, help middle-class Americans save and invest, and jumpstart economic growth and job creation."
But Obama is trying to pigeonhole Romney and congressional Republicans as defenders of the rich while Obama and fellow Democrats are trying to help the middle class.
A big part of that effort is to keep firing at Romney for his personal finances. After a weekend of such attacks, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs added to the barrage Monday morning by telling MSNBC that voters shouldn't trust someone who "has sheltered their income taxes in Switzerland and the Caymans and Bermuda."
Referring to a recent Vanity Fair article, Gibbs added: "One of the most interesting developments and probably one of the most important developments in this campaign...was it was reported that Mitt Romney's taken pretty extraordinary steps to hide the fact that he has a shell corporation in Bermuda."
A Romney campaign spokeswoman said, "The Obama campaign's latest unfounded character assault on Mitt Romney is unseemly and disgusting. Mitt Romney had a successful career in the private sector, pays every dime of taxes he owes, has given generously to charitable organizations, and served numerous causes greater then himself. Barack Obama has become what he once ran against—a typical politician willing to use false and dishonest attacks to save his job after failing to do his job. The American people expected more from this president, and he continues to let them down."
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.