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Crowd, host steal attention at Romney event in Ohio

Mitt Romney's campaign stop outside of Cleveland threatened to veer off-message on a number of occasions Monday, with supporters accusing President Obama of treason and criticizing the president for taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden. The comments drew immediate condemnation from the Obama campaign, which called on Romney to "stand up to extreme voices in his party."

Ohio state auditor Dave Yost, one of the local politicians warming up the crowd for Romney before his event Monday, said Obama claiming credit for the bin Laden raid was like "giving Ronald McDonald credit for the Big Mac you ate for lunch." Yost continued on to say "the guy at the griddle deserved credit."

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Yost went on to mock the president for taking a trip to New York City with his wife, Michelle, saying Obama was "lecturing" the middle class while spending lavishly.

"Anyone get three vacations in 2009 at the depths of the recession?" he asked. "Anyone fly to New York just to have a date night with your spouse? I didn't think so. Mr. President, that's not middle class, and you stop lecturing us about our lives."

In his remarks later, Romney thanked Yost for introducing him. But a Romney campaign aide circulated instances of Romney offering praise for the president's decision to order the bin Laden raid.

Later during the town-hall meeting, a supporter asked Romney about the separation of power in the United States, remarking in an aside that she believed Obama "should be tried for treason."

Romney ignored the comment, instead speaking generally about the role of the Constitution and criticizing the president for remarks in which he said an overturn of his signature healthcare law would be "unprecedented."

"I happen to believe that the Constitution was not just brilliant, but inspired," Romney said. "I would respect the different branches of government if I were to become president."

The questioner then pressed Romney specifically about free-speech rights, apparently referring to concerns over the National Defense Authorization Act signed last month.

Romney deferred, saying he wasn't familiar with the orders she was referring to.

Asked later if he agreed with the questioner who called for the president to be tried for treason, Romney said, "No, of course not," according to The Washington Post.

The Obama campaign condemned Romney for not rebuking the supporters during the event through a pair of posts by campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt on Twitter Monday afternoon.


Romney was also pressed over his income tax returns, with an audience member seemingly implying that Romney had sought to avoid paying income taxes through offshore accounts. The question brought loud boos from supporters at the event.

"I'll look at it. I'm not familiar with that. I don't think I paid any foreign income taxes, but I'll take a look at it," Romney said.

The Romney campaign has maintained that the presumptive Republican nominee has paid all required income taxes and done nothing to shield his assets offshore.