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."

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.

Campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt posted a series of posts on Twitter blasting Romney's response.

When Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom noted reports of supporters at an Obama event calling Romney a "traitor," LaBolt highlighted positive remarks Obama made about the former governor.

The Romney campaign circulated a list of instances in which Romney praised the president's order on the bin Laden raid to reporters during the event, and Romney himself told The Washington Post after the event that he did not believe the president should be tried for treason.

"No, of course not," Romney said.

But the Obama campaign believes the incident plays perfectly into a narrative they sought to establish early Friday morning, in which senior campaign strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina contended the Romney campaign were "basically reduced to running a negative campaign."

Axelrod went on to rip prominent Republican backers — including Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers — as "contract killers."