ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Arlette Saenz report:
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Prominent GOP governor and top Romney surrogate, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, took a shot at the Obama campaign on Saturday for its new television ad featuring Mitt Romney’s off-key rendition of the song, “America the Beautiful.”
In an interview with ABC News on the second full day of the National Governors Association Conference here, McDonnell blasted the 30-second spot, which the Obama campaign plans to broadcast in Virginia and eight other states.
“It’s silly, it’s predictable, and it’s not accurate. Many of the things he’s claiming that he’s attributing to Mitt Romney about outsourcing has things to do with allegations about Bain investments after Mitt Romney went to run the Olympics,” McDonnell said. “Take it off the air. Let’s talk about the issues that people really care about in Virginia which is getting people back to work, getting people out of debt and having energy independence. Let’s focus on that.”
When asked if the new ad qualified as one he would call on President Obama to “pull” off the air — as he did at a news conference on Friday — McDonnell replied: “Sure, yeah.”
The latest salvo from the Obama campaign underscores several lines of attack: that Romney oversaw the off-shoring of jobs as head of Bain Capital, that he has stashed some of his vast fortune in foreign bank accounts and that he is refusing to release more of his tax returns.
In an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Friday, Romney called on the president to apologize for some of his campaign’s recent assault on the former Massachusetts governor’s record at Bain.
The new ad is a clear sign that Team Obama is not only refusing to apologize to Romney, but rather, they are openly mocking him. In fact, the ad’s soundtrack is as damning as the charges leveled in it. The spot features Romney’s attempt to sing ”America the Beautiful” a cappella at a Florida primary campaign appearance at the Villages retirement community in late January.
It also incorporates subtle sound effects and imagery: the white noise of a corporate boardroom as the ad notes: “Governor Romney outsourced jobs to India”; sound and video of a Swiss flag blowing in the wind: “He had millions in a Swiss bank account”; and waves lapping on a tropical beach: “Tax havens like Bermuda…And the Cayman Islands.”
As President Obama traveled around Virginia on the second day of a campaign swing through the state on Saturday, McDonnell said the Obama campaign’s fixation on Romney’s record at Bain “really undermines the political process.”
“I lived in the places the president went this weekend,” McDonnell told ABC News. “I lived in Green Run in Virginia Beach. I lived in Glen Allen in Henrico County. I know the people in those neighborhoods. They don’t much care about Bain Capital or Mitt Romney’s tax returns. They care about getting people to work, getting people out of debt and having bold leadership on energy, so if the president wants to continue to talk about things that aren’t that important, he’ll have to make that decision, but for me, for the Romney campaign, I’m going to talk about things Virginians care about.”
A spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, Lis Smith, dismissed the Virginia governor’s criticism.
“It seems that Governor McDonnell’s problem isn’t with our new ad, it’s with the facts of Mitt Romney’s record,” Smith said in a statement to ABC News. “As the Washington Post reported, Mitt Romney’s firm owned companies that were ‘pioneers’ in outsourcing. And he repeatedly put his money in foreign tax havens and offshore accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda. Mitt Romney could clear up all the unanswered questions about whether he used these offshore accounts to avoid U.S. taxes or hedge against the dollar, but he’s refused to be transparent with the American people. He should take Governor McDonnell’s advice during the GOP primaries and release more of his returns.”