CINCINNATI -- Using unusually vivid language, Mitt Romney tried to take the political offensive against President Barack Obama yesterday, accusing him of cronyism that "stinks" in steering federal contracts to supporters. He also dropped hints through a spokesman that a vice presidential pick could come any day.
Unfazed, Obama needled his Republican rival for finally having a job-creation plan -- for people overseas.
At the same time, though Romney tried to switch the campaign focus, questions about his tenure at Bain Capital, a venture capital company, seemed destined to shape the conversation at least a while longer. On a day devoted mainly to raising money, Romney went on Fox News to complain that all Obama can do "is attack me" on Bain and other subjects rather than taking useful steps to improve the economy.
Sure enough, the Democratic incumbent showed no sign of letting up.
Rallying for support in crucial Ohio, Obama said Romney's proposal to free companies from taxes on their foreign holdings would displace American workers.
The president cited a study he said concluded that "Governor Romney's economic plan would in fact create 800,000 jobs. There's only one problem. The jobs wouldn't be in America."
Romney's campaign, in moving to the attack, contended that Obama's Energy Department has steered loans and grants to several companies connected to the president's political supporters.
Speaking to donors in Baton Rouge, La., Romney said Obama had a policy of "taking your tax dollars and putting it in businesses owned by contributors to his campaign. And that is smelly at best. It stinks."
Romney aides cited some well-known cases, such as Solyndra, a California solar energy company that went bankrupt, and some less-publicized ones. They include Westly Group, a venture capital firm whose affiliated companies have received federal loans and grants. Steve Westly, the company's founder, is a major Obama campaign fundraiser.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Energy Department's decisions "were made without regard to political connections."
Addressing another major election point of interest, top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told The Associated Press that the campaign may announce a vice presidential choice by the end of the week.