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Obama dismisses talk that he personally dislikes Mitt Romney

August 25, 2012|By Seema Mehta
  • Mitt Romney campaigns Saturday in Ohio. President Obama dismissed talk that he personally dislikes the GOP candidate, praising his business acumen and devotion to faith and family.
Mitt Romney campaigns Saturday in Ohio. President Obama dismissed talk… (Jewell Samad / AFP/Getty…)

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — As Mitt Romney prepares to be officially named the GOP nominee, President Obama dismissed reports that he personally dislikes his rival, but said Romney has failed to live up to the requisites of running for president by not releasing more tax returns and has committed to extreme positions he will have to carry out if elected.

“I can't speak to Gov. Romney's motivations,” Obama responded in an interview with the Associated Press when asked about one of his top advisors saying that Romney lacked a “core.”

Obama added: “What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions that are very consistent with positions that a number of House Republicans have taken. 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.”

Obama said he doubted that Romney could back down from a $5-trillion tax cut, or that he would stop efforts to completely eliminate access to abortion, alluding to the GOP platform plank of opposing it in all cases, including incest and rape.

Obama also continued to focus on Romney refusing to release more than two years of tax returns. He said that all past presidential candidates have done so and that the information Romney has released thus far raises more questions.

“Gov. Romney has not been willing to, I think, own up to some of the responsibilities that are required if you're president of the United States,” Obama said.

Obama pushed back at the belief among some political observers that he is personally piqued by Romney. “No, that's not true. I think that's stirred-up Beltway discussions,” he said.

The president praised Romney’s business achievements and his devotion to his family and his faith. But he said he and Romney disagreed over the right path forward for the nation, with Romney focused on the policies of the past that led to the nation’s financial difficulties.

He highlighted economic improvements since he has taken office, including the creation of 4.5 million jobs in the private sector and the rescue of the auto industry. But he also acknowledged that more needs to be done. “… I'm the first one to say that we're not where we need to be. What I'd say to [a frustrated] voter, though, is who's more likely to fight for middle-class families to make sure that they've got long-term security?” Obama said.

He said that if reelected, he expected the partisanship in Washington to grow less toxic and some Republican House members to compromise.

“I'm prepared to make a whole range of compromises, some of which I get criticized from the Democratic Party on, in order to make progress. But we're going to need compromise on your side as well. And the days of viewing compromise as a dirty word need to be over because the American people are tired of it,” Obama said.

“That's, I think, a message that will resonate not with every Republican, but I think with a lot of fair-minded Republican legislators who probably feel somewhat discouraged about having served in one of the least productive Congresses in American history,” he said. “And I hear — not in public, but in private — that many of them would like to go ahead and get some stuff done because they recognize that our children and our grandchildren have a stake in us being able to get this work done.”

The Romney campaign argued that it was Obama who had failed to compromise once he arrived in Washington, and seized upon the president’s acknowledgment that “we aren’t where we need to be.”

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan agree. The American people know they aren’t better off than they were four years ago,” said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. “President Obama has added trillions to our national debt, blocked domestic energy production, and presided over the highest chronic unemployment in recorded history. He promised to change how Washington works, but he admits the nation's capital is as broken as ever …. Too many middle-class families are going to sleep each night worried about the future. This may be the best President Obama can do, but it’s not the best America can do.”

seema.mehta@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATSeema

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