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Gov. O’Malley: Romney ‘bet against America’ with offshore holdings

Video remarks begin at 10:45 mark

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley (Md.) hammered Mitt Romney on Sunday over a report detailing his use of offshore accounts, saying the presumptive GOP nominee had “bet against America.”

“Barack Obama believes enough in our country to be willing to work for and invest in it. Mitt Romney bets against America,” said O’Malley during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” 

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“He bet against America when he put his money in Swiss bank accounts and tax havens and shelters and also set up a secret company, the shell company in Bermuda, which, by the way, in order to avoid disclosure, he put in his wife's name right before he became governor of Massachusetts,” O’Malley charged.

His comments come after a Vanity Fair report released last week said Romney’s financial advisers formed a corporation in Bermuda and the GOP candidate maintained holdings in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. 

O’Malley’s attacks were mirrored by Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) and Obama adviser Robert Gibbs who called on Romney to release more tax returns and detail his use of the offshore accounts. 

In a statement read on Fox News Sunday, Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, rejected Democratic claims that Romney’s holdings had given him tax advantages.  

“He hasn’t paid a penny less in taxes by virtue of where these funds are domiciled. His liability is exactly the same as if he held the fund investments directly in the U.S., Madden said. “As a U.S. citizen, he is accountable for U.S. taxes. Some investments in some foreign countries can be tax havens. But Mitt Romney does not hold any such investments.”

O’Malley said the Vanity Fair article, as well as a report last month from The Washington Post, which alleged that Romney’s private equity firm Bain Capital had been a “pioneer” in creating jobs overseas showed that the GOP candidate’s economic policies were the wrong recipe for America.

“I've never known of a Swiss bank account to build an American bridge, a Swiss bank account to create American jobs, or Swiss bank accounts to rebuild the levees to protect the people of New Orleans. That's not an economic strategy for moving our country forward,” O’Malley said.

“These are legitimate questions that a man who is holding himself out as wanting to lead our country forward needs to answer,” he added.

Also, appearing on ABC, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a Romney surrogate, defended the GOP candidate, saying that voters would rally behind a “successful businessman” who was prepared to manage the economy. 

“We've got a president today who's never run a business, never run anything including a lemonade stand before he was president of the United States,” said Jindal.

He called Democratic efforts to make Romney’s finances a campaign issue “distractions.” 

“At the end of the day, this election is about two fundamental choices,” he said. “It's about President Obama, who wants to continue to spend money we don't have. They incurred now $1 trillion-plus deficit every year he's been president, after he promised we'd cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. He hasn't done that. Promised unemployment would be below 8 percent, hadn't done that, promised he'd reform the entitlement programs, hasn't done that.”

O’Malley also defended the president’s economic policies, after a weak jobs report on Friday showed the unemployment rate still at 8.2 percent, saying Obama had the country “moving forward.”

“What you have to look at is where the president started from. I mean, we faced the biggest job losses since the Great Depression. That's what George W. Bush and his failed policies left to us,” said O’Malley, repeating Democratic attacks which seek to blame the former administration for the still struggling recovery.

O’Malley charged Republicans lawmakers with obstructing jobs growth measures for political gain. “The Tea Party Republican Congress has done everything in their power to try to stall this jobs recovery and slow it before the election,”

Jindal, however, said Obama bore sole responsibility for the weak economy.  “By any measure, his policies have been a failure,” he said.