On Fox News on Tuesday, Romney rejected claims that his policies would worsen unemployment and deprive communities of needed services.
"Teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level, and also by states," Romney said. "The federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously, that's completely absurd."
That triggered a new round of criticisms of Romney's understanding of federal aid to state and local governments.
Since then, Romney's "firemen" remarks and Obama's "private sector is doing fine" comment have been endlessly rehashed in campaign videos, news releases, cable TV, talk radio and elsewhere. They are virtually certain to live on in political ads in at least a dozen competitive states through Nov. 6.
AP Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber contributed to this report.
EDITOR'S NOTE _ An occasional look behind the rhetoric of political candidates.
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