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Team Obama takes attacks to Mitt Romney's home turf

Obama strategist David Axelrod shouted over protesters at the Massachusetts State House as he attacked Romney's record as governor. Romney countered at California's shuttered Solyndra plant.

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“Romney has to say, ‘I inherited a mess in the Bay State like the companies we turned around at Bain and I improved the situation,’ ” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “That is the Bain tie-in. Obama doesn't want voters to make that causal link.”

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It’s telling that Obama has gone so negative in this opening round of the general-election campaign, he says. “It indicates that they know they are in trouble,” says Mr. O’Connell. “And it is cutting into the one item that Obama has a clear advantage on – likability.”

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Romney still trailing Obama on favorability, but he has closed the gap, as Romney has gained among women and Obama’s popularity has slipped. Obama still beats Romney on favorability by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent, but last month the gap was 21 points.

The video released Thursday by the Obama campaign featured seven state lawmakers and mayors, all Democrats, with nary a kind word for the former governor.

“I had worked only under Republican governors,” said state Rep. Jay Kaufman of Lexington, Mass. “There was really not much working with Mitt Romney.”

The Obama campaign also dispatched Romney’s successor, Gov. Deval Patrick, to morning cable shows Thursday to double down on the attacks. But the headline was more an echo of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who flunked recently as an Obama surrogate when he criticized the campaign’s attacks on Bain. Appearing on MSNBC”s “Morning Joe,” Governor Patrick called Bain “a perfectly fine company.”

Later Thursday morning, at the Massachusetts State House, two Republican state representatives pre-butted the Axelrod appearance.

“The beautiful thing about the contrast here today with Governor Romney and President Obama is that it’s an apples to apples comparison,” said state Rep. Dan Winslow, according to CNN. “Both men took office as chief executives in a time of recession, in a time of downturn in the economy, [and] look at the track record both men have to show for it.”

Mike Eckel contributed to this report from Boston.

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