Published December 23, 2015
Mitt Romney, capping off a five-state bus tour in Ohio Tuesday night, delivered the most aggressive and fiery speech of his bid for the presidency -- accusing President Obama of running a "campaign of division and anger and hate" while taking on what he called an "outrageous charge" by Vice President Biden.
The Republican presidential candidate lit into his White House rival at a rally in Chillicothe, Ohio. Though some of the candidate's speeches are written by staff, aides told Fox News that Romney personally wrote this one over the course of two days. It effectively set the tone for the rest of the week, as Romney plans to head to closed-camera fundraisers through Saturday while handing off the campaign bullhorn to his new running mate, Paul Ryan.
In the address, Romney discarded all euphemisms and claimed recent flare-ups on the trail were signs of a president's campaign gone bitter. He pointed to Biden's claim Tuesday in Virginia that Romney and the Republicans intend to roll back Wall Street regulations and "put y'all back in chains." Romney's campaign called it a "new low," while Romney himself accused the president of being "intellectually exhausted" and out of ideas.
"His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the presidency," Romney told a crowd of thousands at the final stop on his five-state bus tour. "Another outrageous charge came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower. This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like."
He continued: "So, Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago."
The Republican presidential candidate also mocked Obama's statements during the 2008 campaign that without fresh ideas "you use stale tactics to scare voters." Romney accused Obama of now making that strategy "the heart of his campaign."
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt responded that Romney "seemed unhinged" during the campaign speech.
"Particularly strange coming at a time when he's pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false," he said.
Earlier, the Obama campaign defended Biden's comments, likening them to language used repeatedly by Republican officials.
"For months, Speaker Boehner, Congressman Ryan and other Republicans have called for the 'unshackling' of the private sector from regulations that protect Americans from risky financial deals and other reckless behavior that crashed our economy," Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager, said in a written statement. "We find the Romney campaign's outrage over the vice president's comments today hypocritical, particularly in light of their own candidate's stump speech questioning the president's patriotism."
Biden made the remarks during a stop in Danville, Va. He took a swipe at Romney's plan to ease financial regulations, by recycling a Romney bank analogy and creating an analogy of his own.
"He said in the first 100 days, he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules," Biden said. "Unchain Wall Street! They're gonna put y'all back in chains."
The remark's context is unclear. Some conservative blogs claimed Biden had just made a reference to slavery. Danville, aside from being the last capital of the Confederacy, is racially split -- the city is nearly half black and half white. The crowd at Tuesday's event reflected that makeup. The Romney campaign fired back without accusing Biden of any racial reference.
In his speech Tuesday evening, however, Romney accused Obama of seeking to divide America -- whether by race, occupation or party affiliation -- as a campaign strategy.
"But he won't win that way. America is one nation under God. American history has been a story of the many becoming one -- uniting to preserve liberty, uniting to build the greatest economy in the world, uniting to save the world from unspeakable darkness," he said. "So, Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America."
Romney championed himself the savior of the middle class, ticking off areas where Obama and his policies have failed the American people.
"After four years, it's clear that President Obama's policies aren't fixing these problems, they're making them worse," Romney said.
Fox News' Chris Laible, Carl Cameron and Wes Barrett contributed to this report.