DURHAM, N.H. - President Obama today doubled down on his attack on Mitt Romney as an "outsourcing pioneer," directly rebutting comments made Sunday by the Republican nominee's advisers Eric Fehrnstrom and Ed Gillespie in network news interviews.
"Just last week it was reported that Gov. Romney's old firm owned companies that were 'pioneers' in the business of outsourcing American jobs to places like China and India. So yesterday, his advisers were asked about this and they tried to clear this up by telling us there's actually a difference between 'outsourcing' and 'off-shoring,'" Obama said, drawing laughter and boos from the crowd of 1,200 packed into the Oyster River High School gym.
"That's what they said," he quipped, "you cannot make this stuff up."
Gillespie and Ferhnstrom have said that Democrats and the news media have confused outsourcing and offshoring and that Romney, during his time as a corporate buyout specialist at Bain Capital, did not send U.S. jobs en masse overseas.
They say the Bain-owned companies with foreign call centers that Democrats cite as examples of outsourcing were actually expanding operations overseas to serve overseas clients. "The customer support these companies offered to U.S. technology firms allowed them to sell U.S. products overseas, which is a good thing, not a bad thing," a Romney campaign official explained last week.
Obama today rejected the explanation.
"What Gov. Romney and his advisers don't seem to understand is this," Obama continued, "If you're a worker whose job went overseas, you don't need somebody trying to explain to you the difference between outsourcing and off-shoring. You need somebody who's going to wake up every single day and fight for American jobs and investment here in the United States."
Obama said his tax plan would close the "outsourcing loophole" and provide tax incentives to companies that bring jobs back to the United States from overseas. He said Romney's "commitment to outsourcing" is part of an overarching economic vision that caters to the wealthiest Americans over the middle class.
"I believe their policies were tested and they failed," Obama said of Republicans' commitment to tax cuts as the primary approach to boosting economic growth. "And my belief is not just based on some knee-jerk partisan reaction. It's based on the fact we tried it."
Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams accused Obama of engaging in a strategy of "diversion and distortion" to shift focus from his economic record of the past three and a half years.
"President Obama's plans for post-election tax hikes on entrepreneurs and the disastrous effect of 'Obamacare' on small-business hiring speak louder than any campaign speech," Williams said in a statement. "He may want to pretend that he hasn't been president for the last three-and-a-half years, but he can't hide from his record."
For his part, Obama conceded that there's "more work to do" and rallied his supporters to be optimistic about what he could accomplish in a second term: A slightly new message that perhaps gave nod to criticism from some Democrats that he had lost touch with a message of hope.
"It's fashionable right now for people to be cynical," he said. "Let me tell you something, there's no problem out there, no challenge we face that we don't have the capacity to solve. We are Americans.
"And what's lacking right now is our politics," he said. "What's lacking right now is that some of the worst impulses in our politics have been rewarded, and that's something entirely within your power to solve."
This post has been updated.