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Romney’s Campaign Seeks to Keep his Vice Presidential Buzz Alive

The vice presidential choices of Barack Obama and John McCain were revealed on Fridays. The news of running mates for Al Gore and George W. Bush leaked out on Mondays. And John Kerry announced John Edwards on a Tuesday.

As Mitt Romney’s decision nears, the speculation grows as well. His campaign is doing everything it can to keep the hype alive, deploying a smart-phone application and putting out a stream of fundraising appeals tied to the announcement.

In an e-mail to supporters yesterday, Ann Romney, the candidate’s wife, wrote, “In just a few short hours one lucky supporter will win the remarkable opportunity to meet Mitt and his VP pick in person.”

Left unsaid was just when the actual announcement might come. Romney had little more to say on the topic yesterday beyond telling NBC News in an interview that he wants a running mate with “a vision for the country that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country.”

The 65-year-old former Massachusetts governor spent much of the day raising money in the New York City area before flying to Boston to spend the night. He has no planned public events today as he prepares for a bus tour through battleground states that starts tomorrow in Virginia.

Several of Romney’s potential running mates come from states he will be visiting on the tour, including Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Rob Portman of Ohio. Also under consideration is former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, a state that hasn’t backed a Republican for president since Richard Nixon in 1972.

Swing States

Obama is tending to the swing states as well, and his campaign is shadowing the Republican candidate through Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio with a new advertisement attacking Romney on his taxes.

Romney, a former private equity executive whose fortune is estimated at about $250 million, has refused to release more than two years of tax returns. In an Aug. 7 interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he said he shouldn’t have to provide more details of his finances for public vetting.

“I’m not a business,” Romney said.

Romney’s 2010 return showed he received $21.66 million in income and paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent, largely due to preferential treatment of capital gains and dividends.

Paying Taxes

The latest Obama campaign ad raises questions about how much Romney has paid over the last decade in federal income taxes, and accuses him of having “personally approved” a complex tax-avoidance maneuver as a director on the board of hotel operator Marriott International Inc.

In 1994, while Romney headed the audit committee, Marriott used a tax shelter known to attorneys by its nickname: Son of BOSS. A federal appeals court invalidated the ploy in 2009.

“These questions are especially relevant given voters’ heightened attention in this election to the fate of their own tax rates, and the central role tax reform will play in the next administration,” Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said in a statement.

Amanda Henneberg, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, called the ad “another dishonorable and dishonest attack.”

“Since President Obama can’t run on record unemployment, falling incomes and massive debt, he has decided to run a dirty campaign that is an affront to everything he claims to stand for,” Henneberg said in a statement.

Another Angle

Campaigning yesterday in Colorado, Obama, 51, hit Romney on taxes from another angle, repeating his accusation that Romney’s policies would favor the wealthy over middle-income Americans and big oil companies over alternative energy.

Romney and Republicans in Congress believe that, “if we give these big tax cuts to folks who don’t need them and are doing really well and we let corporations run roughshod, even if they’re not doing the right thing, that somehow that’s going to lead to jobs and prosperity for everybody,” Obama said in Pueblo.

Obama highlighted his administration’s bailout of U.S. automakers General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, saying it brought the industry “roaring back.”

“I want to do the same with manufacturing jobs,” he said, adding that Romney would have let the auto industry go bankrupt while subsidizing “an oil industry that’s already making a lot of profits.”

Diverting Attention

Romney’s campaign says Obama is highlighting taxes to divert attention from the sluggish recovery and an unemployment rate that has remained above 8 percent for more than three years.

Speaking to donors in Manhattan yesterday, Romney said the election could set the course of American history “perhaps for the entire century.” Should Obama win, Romney said America’s future would be “one of continued decline.”

He compared the situation to the struggling Japanese economy of the 1990s.

“We are not Japan,” Romney said. “We are not going to be a nation that suffers in decline and stress for a decade.”

Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets football team and head of Romney’s fundraising in the New York region, told about 600 donors that the campaign is about “halfway” through its fundraising goals for the region.

“This is a little bit like chopping wood,” he said. “You look over at your pile and you can actually see how it looks.”

Romney raised about $5 million during a two-day swing through New Jersey and New York, Spencer Zwick, Romney’s finance director, told donors yesterday.

Obama continues to lead Romney in most national polls. A CNN poll released yesterday showed the incumbent ahead of Romney 52 percent to 45 percent in a survey of registered voters. Romney was rated favorably by 47 percent and unfavorably by 48 percent of those polled. Obama was viewed favorably by 56 percent with 42 percent rating him unfavorably.

The poll of 911 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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