Charles Dharapak, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this June 28, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court ruling on health care in Washington.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mitt Romney campaign went on offense early this week, after a slow and fumbling initial response to aggressive attacks from President Barack Obama's camp, in which Obama operatives went so far as to suggest Romney might be guilty of a felony. That suggestion earned a rebuke and three Pinocchios from the Washington Post.

Speaking in Pennsylvania on Monday, Romney delivered a free-wheeling attack on Obama's speech last Sunday. Obama raised eyebrows when he said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Romney retorted that the "idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor," Romney said, speaking freely from rough notes but no teleprompter, "that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft, you go on the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn’t build this enterprise. To say something like that is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it’s wrong."

Romney advisers are now speaking in very aggressive terms to reporters, including Buzzfeed's McKay Coppins, who quotes one Romney operative saying that Obama's "policies have been such utter failures, the only thing he can do is to try to destroy a decent man and his wife," the adviser said. "So he gets some hack political adviser from Chicago who has nothing to point to in her own life, and tells her to call him a felon. ... When did our politics get to that point? I mean, it's Nixonian."

John Sununu, Romney's national campaign chairman, held a call with reporters earlier this week which Power Line's John Hinderaker described as "nuclear."

Hinderaker wrote, "(Sununu) said that Obama’s comments show three related things: 1) The President doesn’t understand how America and business work. No wonder his administration has failed to create jobs. 2) Obama’s crony capitalism: He thinks the way to create jobs is for the government to pick winners and losers, and slide money to Obama’s bundlers and allies. 3) Obama’s attitude toward small business also reflects where he comes from, the 'murky political world' of Chicago where politicians and felons are interchangeable."

Sununu also suggested that Obama has “no idea how the American system functions” because he was “in Hawaii smoking something,” and then “spent the next set of years in Indonesia.” Sununu later apologized for the remark, but it seems to reflect the aggressive new tone in the Romney camp.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at [email protected].