Romney, Obama campaign trade barbs as general election intensifies

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Obama press secretary Ben LaBolt returned fire in a statement later in the morning.

“The only unifying theme of Mitt Romney’s campaign to date has been its relentless dishonesty about President Obama’s record and Mitt Romney’s own time in both the private sector and Massachusetts," LaBolt said.

The posturing on the part of both campaigns is an effort to quickly establish roles for their candidates and opponents in hope of gaining the upper hand in the election narrative that will develop. For Romney's campaign, shedding the role of "attack dog" the former governor cultivated through much of the primary will be important, and his team is clearly looking to instead define the president in that light. Obama, meanwhile, must work to undermine Romney's popularity on fiscal issues as economic concerns continue to dominate polls as the most important issue for likely voters.

The effort is evident in the dueling statements, with Rhoades blasting the Obama effort as a "remarkably flailing campaign with no discernible rationale for candidacy."

"We now know that only one campaign is going to run on President Obama’s record of the past three-and-a-half years in office — and it’s not the Obama campaign," Rhoades continued. "Without the ability to run on a record of achievement, the incumbent is reduced to a campaign based on scattershot attacks on Governor Romney in particular and Republicans in general."

LaBolt, meanwhile, sought to undermine Romney's economic record and tie him to the fiscal policies of the Bush Administration.

“Mitt Romney and his campaign, on the other hand, will use any language to declare his record off-limits. It’s no surprise why: as a corporate buyout specialist, he profited by laying off workers and outsourcing jobs and as the governor of Massachusetts, his record was one of few jobs, higher taxes, more debt, and bigger government," said LaBolt. "Now he has proposed a return to the same policies that got us into the economic crisis in the first place — forcing the middle class to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, letting Wall Street write its own rules, and eliminating investments in the security of the middle class. We have tried those policies before. They didn’t unleash growth, they didn’t spur job creation and they didn’t boost the middle class."