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Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, arrives for a business roundtable at a local car dealership, with Jim Click, Jr., President of Jim Click Automotive Team, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Republican presidential contenders are bashing President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plans as a colossal waste of taxpayer money while they crisscross the nation. But with an awkward frequency, these same candidates are campaigning at businesses that benefited from the president's landmark stimulus package.

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The campaign-trail rhetoric has intensified as Obama travels the country to call for a new package of spending and tax cuts to revitalize the nation's stalled economy.

This phenomenon has produced negative media attention in isolated cases, but taken together the visits highlight the candidates' complicated relationships with the $78 billion program many Republican primary voters hate. The issue also underscores the often hypocritical nature of American politics, and the apparent inconsistencies offer Democrats and Republicans alike fuel for political attacks.