President Obama took his derision toward Mitt Romney to a new level in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, reportedly calling his Republican opponent a "bullsh-ter."
Politico on Thursday morning published excerpts from the interview, set to hit newsstands on Friday. The piece by historian Douglas Brinkley included a passage describing an exchange with editor Eric Bates.
"As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his 6-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. ... [S]he said, 'Tell him: You can do it.' Obama grinned," Brinkley wrote, according to Politico. "'You know, kids have good instincts,' Obama offered. 'They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullsh-ter, I can tell.'"
Romney's campaign said the comment was the sign of a "rattled" opponent.
"President Obama is rattled and on the defensive. He's running on empty and has nothing left but attacks and insults. It's unfortunate he has to close the final days of the campaign this way," Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said.
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It follows Obama and Vice President Biden claiming that Romney has changed his positions in order to appeal to moderate voters. The president has taken to calling the alleged flip-flops "Romnesia," which he jokes is a condition that can be cured.
Again on the stump in Tampa Thursday morning, Obama said: "If you're starting to get a temperature, eyes blurry, showing symptoms. If you start thinking Romney wanted to save auto industry even though he wrote an op-ed that said Let Detroit Go Bankrupt. If there's a fuzziness to policies on your website ... Don't worry because this is a curable condition and ObamaCare covers pre-existing conditions."
The tone of the presidential race has become increasingly testy. During the final debate, the president mocked Romney for complaining about the size of the Navy.
"You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916," Obama said. "Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed."
Republicans, though, claim Obama has made his election about "small things" -- with his one-liners and jokes seizing on social media sensations like Romney's debate comment about cutting PBS funding despite his affection for Big Bird, or Romney's "binders full of women" comment. Both have factored prominently into Obama's stump speeches.
A Republican National Committee video released Wednesday mashed up Obama's catch phrases with his warning from the 2008 race that a candidate without a record will make "a big election about small things."
"Big Bird. Binders. Bayonets. It's time to talk about jobs," the text in the video says.
Obama, in an interview with NBC News aired Wednesday night, made clear he doesn't consider himself to have a "real relationship" with his rival -- though he argued that's not uncommon in a presidential race.
"I mean, John McCain I knew, because I had served with him in the Senate. But I think if you look at -- George Bush and John Kerry or George Bush and Al Gore or first President Bush and Bill Clinton, I don't think anybody would say that while you were in the middle of a campaign that -- you felt deep affection for the other guy, because, you know, look, you're -- you're fighting for competing visions," he said.