Obama: Romney locked in 'extreme positions'

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Mitt Romney has locked himself into "extreme positions" on economic and social issues and would surely impose them if elected, trying to discredit his Republican rival at the biggest political moment of his life.

In an interview with The Associated Press just before the GOP convention, Obama said Romney lacks serious ideas, refuses to "own up" to the responsibilities of what it takes to be president, and deals in factually dishonest arguments that could soon haunt him in face-to-face debates.

Obama also offered a glimpse of how he would govern in a second term of divided government, insisting that the forces of the election would help break Washington's stalemate. He said he would be willing to make a range of compromises with Republicans, confident there are some who would rather make deals than remain part of "one of the least productive Congresses in American history."

Obama set up a contrast between Romney, whom he cast as an extremist pushing staunchly conservative policies, and himself, by saying he would work across party lines.

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Obama depicted his opponent as having accumulated ideas far outside the mainstream with no room to turn back. "He has signed up for positions, extreme positions, that are very consistent with positions that a number of House Republicans have taken," Obama said. "And whether he actually believes in those or not, I have no doubt that he would carry forward some of the things that he's talked about."

In explaining his accusation of "extreme" positions, the president cited Romney's call for across-the-board tax cuts that Obama said would mostly help the rich at the expense of everyone else and cost $5 trillion. Obama also singled out Romney's opposition to tax credits for producers of wind energy.

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