On Sunday, Politico reported significant tension and disarray in the Romney campaign. Particularly chaotic, according to the account, were efforts to draft Romney's acceptance speech at the Tampa, Fla., convention. The speech drew lackluster reviews in general, and rebukes from some for making no mention of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Romney played down the reports in an interview with Telemundo. "I've got a terrific campaign," he said. "My senior campaign people work extraordinarily well together. I work well with them."
With 50 days until the election, Romney's camp unveiled new TV ads and planned a renewed focus on policy in campaign appearances by the nominee, his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, and top surrogates.
Obama, speaking in Cincinnati soon after Gillespie's conference call, seemed eager to challenge the notion that Romney will detail potentially painful changes Americans will have to accept to slow the fast rise in the federal debt.
Obama own spending plans would not balance the budget. But he has offered more detailed tax-and-spending proposals, in part because he must present budget proposals to Congress. In Ohio on Monday, Obama noted that he, unlike Romney, would raise taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year. Romney's platform, the president said, "doesn't add up."
"They say the most important thing we have to do is reduce the deficit," Obama said. "Then the first thing they do is to spend trillions of dollars more on tax breaks for the wealthy."
"And whenever you ask them to explain the plan, they won't," he said. "They won't say how they pay for $5 trillion in tax cuts."
In his Los Angeles speech, Romney added no new significant details to his deficit-cutting claims. He said he would put the nation "on track to a balanced budget," in part by eliminating non-essential programs or subsidies. The only subsidies he specified go to Amtrak, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the national endowments for the arts and humanities, and the Legal Services Corporation.
These programs, which Romney has targeted since 2011, receive a tiny portion of federal spending.
Several balanced-budget advocates want both Romney and Obama to confront tougher decisions about spending and taxes. Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, who co-chaired a deficit-reduction commission, told NBC Sunday that the presidential campaigns contain "not nearly enough substance" on this topic.
"There's no easy way out," Bowles said, "and I think the candidates are afraid to stand up and say, 'Look, we need to make some tough choices. We need to have some shared sacrifice.'"
In Cincinnati, Obama reiterated his claims that Bain Capital -- the private equity firm Romney headed for years — helped companies shift U.S. jobs to China.
"He made money investing in companies that uprooted from here and went to China," the president said. "When other countries don't play by the rules, we've done something about it. We've brought more trade cases against China in one term than the previous administration did in two."
Romney's campaign recently began airing TV ads accusing Obama of allowing American manufacturing jobs to be lost to China. The campaign says Bain was not involved in moving jobs to China while Romney headed the firm.
Separately, China filed its own World Trade Organization case Monday challenging U.S. anti-dumping measures on billions of dollars of kitchen appliances, paper and other goods, adding to worsening trade strains between the two economic giants.
Babington reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Los Angeles contributed to this report.