As Republican challenger Mitt Romney seized on fresh evidence of economic sluggishness Friday to hammer away at his rival, President Barack Obama looked ahead to the second term he’s hoping to win.
Referring to the two top Republicans in Congress, Obama said he was prepared to “wash John Boehner’s car” or “walk Mitch McConnell’s dog” if it would help complete an elusive deal to cut future deficits by trillions of dollars.
Back in the White House after a two-day trip to battleground states, Obama said he looked forward to trying to reach a deal with congressional Republicans on a sweeping budget deal if he wins re-election. Asked by radio show host Michael Smerconish if he would make the first move, the president replied, “I’ve said I’ll do whatever’s required to get this done.
“And I think the key that the American people want right now is for us to tackle some big challenges that we face in a commonsense, balanced, sensible way.”
That was a reference to one of his biggest differences with Romney — his insistence that tax cuts be allowed to expire at upper incomes on Dec. 31, as opposed to Romney’s insistence that they be extended.
Obama has been under pressure from Romney in recent days to be more specific about a second-term agenda, and he released a 20-page pamphlet earlier this week.
He also had interviews with MTV and several battleground-state television stations on his schedule for the day.
Later, in a live interview with MTV, he urged younger voters to cast their ballots, saying, “there’s no excuse” not to.
The two sides disagreed — of course — on whether the political battlefield was expanding.
First Romney, then Obama, launched a modest run of television ads in Minnesota, where neither side had made a significant effort to date.
The Republican’s aides claimed an opportunity to make a state competitive that had long been counted as safe for Obama. The president’s side disputed that, insisting that its ads were aimed at voters in Wisconsin, the battleground next door.
Obama’s strategists appeared concerned about the impact of Romney’s persistent attacks on the president’s position on Israel, airing a commercial in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area, home to a large number of Jewish voters. “As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon,” the president vows in the ad, addressing fears that Tehran would attempt to obliterate the Jewish state.
The ad’s subject matter, foreign policy, was a rarity in a campaign for the White House focused largely on the economy and jobs.
Romney vows to put his experience as a businessman to use to create 12 million jobs in four years. The president claims progress during his term on fixing the economy, though conceding it hasn’t been fast enough, and says Romney’s policies would only make matters worse.
There was little indication that the economy was gathering much momentum, based on a Commerce Department report during the day, which said growth from July through September was slightly faster than a 2 percent annual rate. Growth so far this year is slightly less than in 2011, which was weaker than 2010. Officials said the current annual rate is too slow to bring a rapid boost in job creation.