Obama keeps up attacks on Romney as he travels Virginia

GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- Apparently, there will be no apology.

President Obama’s response to rival Mitt Romney’s repeated requests for those two little words was clear on Saturday. As the president campaigned across Virginia, Obama kept up the attacks on Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, accusing the Republican of investing in companies that “pioneered” the practice of shipping jobs overseas.

“I don’t want a pioneer in outsourcing. I want some in-sourcing,” Obama said as he stood, soaked, in a downpour at an outdoor rally in Glen Allen, a suburb of Richmond. “I want to bring companies back.”

Obama promised to shorten his remarks to the 900 “die-hards” standing the rain.

“Ladies, I do apologize for your hairdos getting messed up,” he joked. “We’re going to have to treat everybody to a little salon visit after this.”

As the president spoke, his campaign released an emphatic television ad that claimed Romney's firms "shipped jobs to Mexico and China”; that as governor he outsourced state jobs to India; and that he had millions of dollars in a Swiss bank account and tax shelters in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The ad is set to music: Romney’s halting rendition of “America the Beautiful” from a January campaign stop in Florida.

 “Mitt Romney is not the solution. He’s the problem,” the ad says.

The spot is Obama’s third negative ad currently hitting the outsourcing issue, according to CMAG, a media tracking firm. The new one was airing in states that are targets for both candidates.

The onslaught demonstrates the Obama campaign’s confidence in the damage it could do to Romney by hammering at his role at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm he co-founded. Romney has argued that he isn’t responsible for the outsourcing and bankruptcies at Bain investments after 1999, when he says he stopped managing the day-to-day operations, but the Obama team has seized fresh evidence that Romney retained at least a titular role after that date.

 Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter suggested Romney may have committed a felony in misreporting his role to federal regulators. Romney called the charge out of line and demanded an apology,  but the fight has for several days pushed Romney off his economic message. (The former Massachusetts governor spent Saturday at his New Hampshire lake house.)

Obama’s stop in Richmond and a later rally in the northern Virginia suburb of Clifton wrapped up a two-day swing through a state crucial to his chances of winning in November. Obama won Virginia in 2008, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since 1964. Most polls show him with a slim lead, but the president will likely need a strong turnout in the fast-growingWashington, D.C., suburbs, the city of Richmond, and African American pockets of the state, as well as among independent voters in the suburbs.

Obama’s trip was aimed at the latter group. He spent Friday in the Tidewater area, reaching out to military families and talking up his push to extend lower income tax rates for households earning less than $250,000. He stuck to that script again Saturday.

“I believe in middle-out economics, a bottom-up economics. I believe that when hardworking Americans are doing well, everybody does well,” he told a group of more than 2,000 people at Centreville High School in Clifton.

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

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