Brace yourself. After a brief respite caused by Hurricane Sandy, the attack syndrome is back on the presidential campaign trail.
Both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney took a break from their negativity earlier this week out of respect for the hurricane victims, but they are now poised to return to business as usual — attacks and counter-attacks. Their surrogates and their campaign leaders are already lobbing rhetorical grenades at the other side.
Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd in Sarasota, Fla., that Romney is running a false ad in Ohio suggesting that Jeep would move manufacturing jobs to China. Biden said the ad was "scurrilous" and "one of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember in my political career."
Obama spokeswomen Lis Smith issued a statement blasting Romney Thursday.
"The idea that Mitt Romney would help businesses grow as president doesn't match his record or his policies," Smith said. "When the American auto industry and a million jobs were on the line, Romney turned his back, which is why he's trying to rewrite history by telling desperate falsehoods to Ohio voters ... Mitt Romney can lurch from false attack to false attack in the final days of this campaign, but the American people understand President Obama is the only candidate in this race with a concrete plan to move our country forward, grow our economy, and strengthen the middle class."
On the other side, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, stumping for Romney in Coral Gables, Florida, said Obama is too polarizing. "His entire strategy is to blame others — starting with my brother, of course,' said Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush.
Romney's campaign is running a Spanish-language ad in Florida, a key battleground state, claiming that Fidel Castro's niece Mariela would support Obama. The commercial is designed rouse anti-Obama sentiment in the Cuban-American community, where Castro is a figure of scorn. The ad also shows a clip of controversial Venezuelen President Hugo Chavez calling Obama "a good guy," and saying if he were American, "I'd vote for Obama." The ad was first reported by the Miami Herald.
Obama has scheduled rallies Thursday in Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado, all battleground states. Romney scheduled three rallies in Virginia, still another battleground state, while his vice-presidential running mate Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, was to appear in Nevada and Colorado.
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook and Twitter.