White House wants ‘high-brow debate,’ defends Bain attacks

The White House said Saturday that President Obama wants to have a "highbrow debate" with Mitt Romney, even as it touted a new ad hitting the GOP candidate’s business record and mocking his singing of "America the Beautiful." 

Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki told reporters in a gaggle aboard Air Force One that Obama wanted to focus on issues "the American people actually care about."

But Psaki said the Obama campaign's attacks on Romney’s business background as former head of private equity firm Bain Capital were fair game. 

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"Of course the President wants to have a highbrow debate about these policy issues and what the American people actually care about," she said.

"We know that Mitt Romney is leading with his business credentials as his top qualification for being president," Psaki continued. "And we think that it's completely justified to raise questions -- we have, many outside groups have, many media outlets have -- about why he had an account in Switzerland, why he had investments in the Cayman Islands, what exactly this corporation was in Bermuda.  And the American people deserve to know more about it." 

Psaki’s comments were in defense of a new ad, which is expected to run in nine swing states and continues the campaign’s attacks on Romney, accusing him of helping companies move jobs overseas and calling on him to disclose more information about his offshore holdings. 


The video runs a clip of Romney singing at a campaign rally in Florida in January, while headlines from news reports about his tenure at Bain and wealth flash across the screen.

Psaki said the video was intended to highlight the former Massachusetts' governor's business background, not his singing ability. 

"The ad was a light way of highlighting Mitt Romney's record on outsourcing, his ownership of offshore accounts and tax havens," she said.  "It was meant to take a light approach to it."

Mitt Romney on Friday hit back at the attacks, calling on the president to apologize. “He sure as heck ought to say that he’s sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team,” Romney said, claiming the attacks were untrue. 

Romney campaign denies that their candidate placed his money in "tax havens" and say he has paid all taxes due in the U.S.

“As the failures of his presidency become more evident, Barack Obama has resorted to the tactics of a typical politician – dishonest and totally unsubstantiated attacks meant to distract from his own record by smearing the reputation of his opponent,” said Romney campaign spokesman Amanda Henneberg, in a statement to The Hill, on Saturday.