- Last Updated: 3:17 PM, July 17, 2012
- Posted: 3:17 PM, July 17, 2012
IRWIN, Pa. — Republican Mitt Romney intensified his criticism of President Obama on Tuesday, accusing the Democrat of insulting business leaders after a key Romney supporter questioned Obama's patriotism.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is trying shift attention away from his business record and his tax returns with a fresh assault as Obama, anxious about losing his fundraising edge, turned to Republican-tilted Texas to raise millions of dollars from gay, Latino and big-dollar donors.
Speaking in western Pennsylvania, Romney framed the presidential contest as a battle for America's soul.
"Do we believe in an America that is great because of government, or do we believe in an America that's great because of free people allowed to pursue their dream?" Romney asked a cheering crowd of supporters gathered in the cement-floored warehouse of a local gas and oil services company.
He continued: "President Obama attacks success and therefore under Obama we have less success. And I will change that."
Campaigning in San Antonio, Obama offered his familiar vision of a government that supports the middle class. He spoke of a nation in which hard work is rewarded for individuals and families, but also in which the government takes on endeavors that help everyone, from building roads to expanding educational opportunities.
As he put it: "We rise or fall as one nation."
"I believe in bottom-up economics. I believe in fighting on behalf of working families," Obama said. "Because when we do that, everybody does better. ... That's what built this country."
Romney stepped up his criticism of Obama in Pennsylvania, which has been a tough presidential battleground for the Republican Party. He accused Obama of engaging in cronyism, citing federal grants and loan guarantees to alternative energy companies run by Obama backers and donors.
Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, a Romney supporter, questioned Obama's patriotism while criticizing Obama's policies toward business. "The men and women all over America who have worked hard to build these businesses, their businesses, from the ground up is how our economy became the envy of the world. It is the American way, and I wish this president would learn how to be an American," Sununu told reporters during a conference call arranged by Romney's campaign.
Asked to clarify his comments, Sununu later said: "The president has to learn the American formula for creating business."
In Texas, Obama was expected to sustain his offensive against Romney, claiming the Republican's tax policies would benefit the rich and cost jobs. His re-election campaign continued to draw attention to Romney's time at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded in 1984. But Obama's central goal in Texas was to draw in money; he was holding two fundraisers in San Antonio and two in Austin, with an estimated haul of at least $4 million.