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President Barack Obama seeks to undercut Mitt Romney's record on jobs

By Ken Thomas

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 14 2012 11:52 a.m. MDT

In this Friday, May 4, 2012, file photo Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Jae C. Hong, FILE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is casting Mitt Romney as a greedy, job-killing corporate titan with little concern for the working class in a new, multipronged effort that seeks to undermine the central rationale for his Republican rival's candidacy: his business credentials.

At the center of the push — the president's most forceful attempt yet to sully Romney before the November election — is a biting new TV ad released Monday that recounts through interviews with former workers the restructuring, and ultimate demise, of a Kansas City, Mo., steel mill under the Republican's private equity firm.

"They made as much money off of it as they could. And they closed it down," says Joe Soptic, a steelworker for 30 years. Jack Cobb, who also worked in the industry for three decades, adds: "It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us."

The ad, at the unusual length of two minutes, will run in five battleground states — Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado — and is part of a larger $25 million, monthlong ad campaign. Republican officials tracking the ad buy said the Obama team was only airing the two-minute spot on Wednesday in the five states. The ad was expected to air during the evening news and direct viewers to an Obama website about Romney's economic record and a longer, six-minute version of the ad appearing online.

Romney campaign officials said they welcome any discussion about jobs. "Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

The commercial will be coupled with a series of events Obama's campaign is holding this week in Florida, Missouri, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina to highlight Romney's role at Bain Capital, a company he co-founded. Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in a call with reporters that Obama's team would highlight Romney's Bain record "during next few weeks."

Romney's campaign was aggressively working behind the scenes to counter the Obama campaign's Bain message, dispatching senior campaign strategist Ed Gillespie to a conference call with conservative bloggers on Monday to refute the ad. Romney's campaign planned to frame the attacks on his record at Bain as an "attack on free enterprise," and to cast the auto bailout as an example of private equity at work.

"He's now been a venture capitalist at Solyndra, Fisker, Tesla; and he's been a private equity guy at General Motors and Chrysler. So I'll be talking about his record when I'm facing him," Romney said of Obama while campaigning earlier this year.

It's unclear whether Obama, himself, will criticize his Republican rival on the subject when the president appears at events in New York on Monday or whether he'll leave the skewering to campaign surrogates as he prepares to meet with foreign leaders during the G-8 and NATO summits later this week.

At least one Obama surrogate, Vice President Joe Biden, holds two days of events this week in Ohio, where he's expected to discuss Romney's role as a corporate buyout specialist.

Romney previously had accused Obama of attacking free enterprise and called the criticism of his business background an attempt by Democrats to distract voters from the president's record.

Both candidates were entering a new week in the campaign seeking to shift the focus back to voters' No. 1 issue, the economy, from social issues that dominated after the president announced his support for gay marriage.

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