WASHINGTON -- As Mitt Romney campaigned across Ohio during the Republican primary, there was a sense that his message of adding a private-sector touch to national politics was finally resonating among voters. The former Massachusetts governor was still, at that point, embroiled in a tight contest with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). But polls were showing him running away with a victory in the Buckeye State.
Still, in an interview with The Huffington Post just a day before the vote took place, Ohio's former governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, said he wasn't worried that Romney was establishing firm roots in his home state. The reason was simple. The same business background propelling him in the primary could be turned into a liability in the general.
"We haven't even started really talking in Ohio about Mitt Romney having a Swiss bank account and Mitt Romney putting a portion of his wealth, having it invested in the Cayman Islands," said Strickland. "I mean, trust me, that's not going to go over well in Ohio. Why would any person who aspired to be president, as Mitt Romney has for probably much of his life, open a Swiss bank account? What does that say about his political judgment and what does it say about his commitment to the United States of America?"
On Tuesday morning, the Obama campaign followed Strickland's script to a T, putting out an ad in Ohio called, of all things, "Swiss Bank Account." The spot will air in Virginia and Iowa as well, and according to a campaign aide, has a significant amount of money behind it.
The ad is actually a response to another one being run by a conservative outside group attacking the president for his alternative energy policies. And for that reason it opens up by pointing out that that group, Americans for Prosperity, was accused by fact-checkers of using inaccurate or downright false information. From there, however, there are only haymakers.
"As a corporate CEO, [Romney] shipped American jobs to places like Mexico and China," the script goes. "As Governor, he outsourced state jobs to a call center in India. He's still pushing tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. It’s just what you expect from a guy who had a Swiss Bank Account."
The Swiss Bank line is, of course, a touch gratuitous. And it led the Romney campaign to insist that the president was trying to "distract" from real issues.
"With the worst job creation record in modern history and the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, President Obama is trying to distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows," said Romney spokesperson Amanda Henneberg. "Unable to defend his failed record of 23 million Americans struggling for work, wasteful boondoggles like Solyndra, skyrocketing national debt, and unacceptably high energy prices, President Obama has once again resorted to attacking Mitt Romney."
But Obama's team cares more about drawing eyeballs to the spot -- including those of the people who produce cable news segments. And even then, they had a readied response for Romney.
"There are only 2 reasons to have a Swiss bank account: hedging against the dollar or avoiding paying fair share in taxes," tweeted Obama Press Secretary Ben LaBolt.