President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican challenger, are trading attacks in television ads, with Obama accusing Romney of sending U.S. jobs overseas and keeping his money in Swiss accounts.
The Obama ad is partly in response to one released last week by the conservative political group Americans for Prosperity, which suggests money from Obama's $814 billion economic stimulus package went to overseas green-energy companies. Congress passed Obama's massive spending measure in hopes of pulling the U.S. economy out of the worst downturn since the 1930s Great Depression.
The economy is by far the biggest issue in the election, and Romney, who has seemingly locked up the nomination to challenge Obama in November, continues to attack the president on the issue.
The new Obama message, which will be broadcast in battleground states Virginia, Ohio and Iowa — accuses Romney of having "shipped American jobs to places like Mexico and China" when he led the investment firm Bain Capital. It also says Romney "outsourced state jobs to a call center in India" when he was governor of Massachusetts.
"It's just what you'd expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account," the Obama ad says, referring to Romney's 2010 income tax filing that showed some family money is kept in accounts abroad. Romney's fortune is estimated to be as much as $250 million.
The new Obama ad was released after an exchange in which one of the president's campaign officials said it was unclear whether Romney would have ordered the killing of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. The issue came up on the anniversary of Obama sending a Navy Seals team deep into Pakistan to assassinate bin Laden.
But Romney on Monday said, "Of course," when asked if he would have ordered the bin Laden operation. "Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order," he said. That was a reference to the former Democratic president, whose legacy is weighed down by the 444 days that Iranian revolutionaries held Americans hostage after the Islamic takeover in Tehran.
Carter blamed his 1980 election loss to Ronald Reagan partly on the decision he made to send a military rescue mission that failed to extract the hostages and resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members.
As the presidential race moves toward full speed, Romney scheduled an appearance Tuesday in New York City with firefighters and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to mark the one-year anniversary of the killing of bin Laden, who was responsible for the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, a key Romney supporter who was chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush, said Obama was wrong to take credit for bin Laden's killing. Sununu said the decision ultimately was made by a Navy admiral.
"It's wrong in taking credit and it's wrong in implying that someone else would not have made the same decision," Sununu said before Romney addressed a crowd Monday. "There is no way that anyone sitting in that White House would not have at least done what he did."
Obama, meanwhile, rallied union workers Monday by painting a bleak portrait of America's infrastructure. He blamed Republicans for focusing on tax cutting rather than creating jobs by updating and rebuilding highways, railroads and airports.
Union members greeted him with chants of "Four more years."