TAMPA, Fla. – President Barack Obama sought to discredit rival Mitt Romney's business background Friday, pointing to investments by Romney's former private equity firm in companies that moved jobs to low-wage countries. "We don't need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office," Obama said.
Obama's campaign has tried to undermine Romney's case to voters that his background in business would help him jumpstart the nation's economy, which has been hampered by weak job growth, high unemployment and uncertainty over European countries struggling to resolve a debt crisis that has roiled the global economy.
Obama said in a campaign speech at Hillsborough Community College that his tax proposal would stop giving tax breaks to businesses that send jobs overseas and offer incentives for companies that bring jobs back to the United States. He seized on a report about investments by Romney's firm in companies that were described as "pioneers" in outsourcing jobs to China and India.
"Pioneers! Let me tell you, Tampa, we do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office. We need a president who will fight for American jobs and American manufacturing," Obama said. "That's what my plan will do."
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the story in The Washington Post did not differentiate between "domestic outsourcing" and "offshoring" and didn't take into account work done overseas to support U.S. exports. The former Massachusetts governor would "make it easier and more attractive for companies to create jobs here at home," Saul said.
The president's re-election team has tried to paint Romney's record at private equity firm Bain Capital as one focused solely on profits at the expense of workers and the outsourcing story gave it a new line of attack.
"People really have a fundamental choice in this election," Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said in a conference call with reporters. "The question is, do they want an outsourcer-in-chief in the Oval Office or do they want a president who's going to fight for American jobs and American manufacturing and the American middle class?"
Following his speech, Obama held a fundraiser at the community college with a group of 25 donors, each contributing $20,000, for a total of $500,000 raised toward his campaign, the Democratic National Committee and other party affiliates.