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GOP critics attack Mitt Romney's safe approach

By Steve Peoples

Associated Press

Published: Friday, July 6 2012 10:17 a.m. MDT

"I think they have to recognize that we're in a campaign mode where simple, tough, declarative sentences are required, that this is not a campaign to be won on nuance but to be won on making sharp distinctions with the failure of the Obama administration economically, the loss of jobs and the pain that Americans across the country are feeling," former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, a key Romney surrogate, said on CNN.

Conservative critics include media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who took to Twitter recently and charged that Obama's Chicago-based team "will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful."

Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, has also jabbed Romney for playing it safe.

Some of Romney's longtime political advisers go back to his days as Massachusetts governor. And there is no sign of a major shakeup among his senior staff, despite the addition of some communications staffers who will be taking on more responsibility in some cases.

"Governor Romney respects the team that he has and he has full confidence in them," said spokeswoman Gail Gitcho.

The criticism has intensified in the days since the Romney campaign offered seemingly contradictory messages on the Supreme Court's health care ruling. The court ruled that the so-called individual mandate in Obama's signature law is constitutional, in part, because of the federal government's taxing authority.

Republicans seized on the explanation and accused Obama of raising taxes. But that raised questions about Romney's health care overhaul in Massachusetts, which also forces people to purchase health insurance.

A day after a Romney senior adviser declared that the mandate was not a tax, Romney went on TV to say it was.

Romney on Friday refused to address the apparent contradiction directly when asked.

"I've spoken about health care from the day we passed it in Massachusetts," he said. "And people said, 'Is this something you'd apply at the federal level?' And I said, No. I said the right course for the federal government is to allow states to create their own plans."

The president, meanwhile, has launched a two-day bus tour of northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, where he told supporters Thursday that Romney would pursue economic policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. And Obama's top political adviser, David Axelrod, cited an Associated Press investigation of Romney's personal offshore investments.

"Why would you transfer your Bermuda business . to your wife the day before you became governor? Why did you not want that on your disclosure form?" Axelrod told ABC News, accusing Romney of being the most secretive candidate since President Richard Nixon.

Romney did not address those attacks Friday morning, as he neared the end of his family vacation.

Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

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