WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney's campaigns traded accusations of lying Thursday, ratcheting up an already heated race for the White House.
The Romney camp's charge came in a hard-hitting new television ad that accuses Obama of misleading, unfair and untrue attacks. The Obama campaign hit back, blasting Romney's "big Bain lie" after a newspaper report cited a possible discrepancy in the presumptive GOP's nominee's business record.
Both sides looked to paint the other as little more than the typical politician as they sought an edge in what polls have shown to be a neck-and-neck contest.
The Romney campaign ad, titled "No Evidence", accuses Obama of launching false attacks that depict the former Massachusetts governor as someone who shipped jobs overseas when he ran Bain Capital, the private equity firm he helped found. The ad, which will run in several battleground states, asks voters: "When a president doesn't tell the truth, how can we trust him to lead?"
The ad tries to show that dishonesty is a pattern with Obama and points to his 2008 Democratic primary rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to do it. It shows a clip of Clinton — now serving Obama as secretary of state — saying, "Shame on you, Barack Obama" and calling on her then-challenger to stop running dishonest ads.
Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie raised similar questions about Obama Thursday on NBC's "Today."
Gillespie said Romney left Bain Capital in 1999, and said job outsourcing wasn't the policy when Romney was in charge. That accusation, Gillespie said, has "been shown to be demonstrably false."
The Obama campaign then seized on a report in the Boston Globe, which said government documents show Romney remained chief executive and chairman of Bain three years beyond the date he claimed.
Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, said the report raised serious questions about why Romney would misrepresent the date of his departure.
"It's time for Mitt Romney to come clean so that the American people can make their own judgments about his record and his motivations," Cutter said.
Romney's campaign said the Globe story was inaccurate, and reaffirmed that he left Bain in 1999.