Obama, Romney Engaged ‘Forward’

At the traditional, if not the solar, start of summer, it’s getting hot on the trail.

President Barack Obama, who was campaigning for reelection last night at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, is attempting to brand his opponent as a bad investment. The State Fair is where Republican rival Mitt Romney asserted last summer that “corporations are people.”

That corporation talk involved Romney’s reluctance to add to the tax burden of business in America. Taxing corporations, he argued, is taxing people.

Romney’s talk this year of lowering taxes is giving Obama a ready target: the image of George W. Bush, whose 2001 and 2003 tax cuts have contributed to a record federal deficit — the tax cuts and two wars run largely off the books, too.

“We’re not going to double down on the same bad ideas,” Obama told a cheering crowd in Iowa, a swing state that both campaigns are targeting. Citing Romney’s proposed tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, Obama said, “That’s a vision that’s going backward. We’re going forward.”

Romney, for his part, is accusing Obama of  not understanding how the economy works, and says his criticism of Romney’s experience in private equity is attacking free enterprise. He has said in speeches and interviews, as Bloomberg’s Roger Runningen reports from the road, that Obama is “not up to the task” of guiding the economy. He has pointed at a “prairie fire of debt” run up by the administration (though Obama inherited a record debt from Bush.)

At the fairgrounds, where dairy carvings such as the butter cow and butter motorcycle often draw more attention than the soapbox speeches of candidates stumping there, Obama accused Romney of making “a cow pie of distortion.”

Romney’s renewal of Bush’s tax-cutting policies would only add trillions to the debt, Obama maintained, calling it something akin to trying to “put out a prairie fire with gasoline.”

Romney has limited his own appearances this week, leaving a lot of the explaining to surrogates, save an interview with Time magazine’s Mark Halperin.

Romney defended his work as founder and chief executive officer of Boston-based Bain Capital in that interview.

“The fact is that I spent 25 years in the private sector, and that obviously teaches you something that you don’t learn if you haven’t spent any time in the private sector,” the presumptive presidential nominee said. “Someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited to help fix the economy than someone who spent his life in politics and as a community organizer.”

As Romney brands himself as the fix-it candidate, Obama is telling voters things aren’t that broken.

Going forward, this will be the battle of the brands.

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