Obama on Romney: "Sometimes they just make things up"

President Obama speaks at a campaign event, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 in Charlottesville, Va.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
President Obama speaks at a campaign event, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 in Charlottesville, Va.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

(CBS News) CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Though the TV was on in his hotel room last night in Colorado, President Obama was watching ESPN, not the Republican convention.

"Watching sports, but not watching the convention," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One as the president flew here for a campaign rally ending a two-day swing through three swing states.

Carney also said Mr. Obama was otherwise occupied monitoring the path and impact of Hurricane Isaac.

Even so, Mr. Obama urged the 7,500 people at his campaign rally to "pay a little attention to what's happening in Tampa this week."

"Don't boo - vote," he told his audience under the big tent of the Charlottesville Pavillion.

Obama campaign press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed last night's GOP convention theme - critical of Mr. Obama's "you didn't build that" comment last month - as "built on a house of lies."

Mr. Obama said much the same thing about political ads targeting him, portraying them as deliberate distortions of his policies and statements.

"Sometimes they just make things up," the president said of the ads, referring to them as "an avalanche of attack ads and insults and distractions."

He cited a published comment from Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse: "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."

Mr. Obama said he took that to mean the Romney campaign policy is "we will not let the truth get in the way."

The Obama campaign has also been accused of playing fast and loose with the facts in its attacks on Romney-Ryan policies.

The president used his speech today to make yet another outreach to college students, hoping to re-energize them to help him win key swing states such as Iowa, Colorado and Virginia.

"Are you ready to deliver again for our president, Barack Obama," former Virginia Governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine asked the crowd as part of his warm-up speech at the rally.

Citing the passage of "Obamacare", more education grants and lower rates on student loans, Mr. Obama told college kids: "you made it possible, you can't get tired now."

He said there's more work to be done growing the economy, creating more good jobs and strengthening the economy.

"And in November," he told the students, your voice will matter more than ever,

Though he didn't watch the Republican event last night, with tongue-in-cheek, he referred to it as "a pretty entertaining show."

"They got wonderful things to say about me," he said with obvious sarcasm.

Mr. Obama also made a point of stressing his focus on the damage being wrought by Hurricane Isaac.

He said he's receiving regular updates on the situation and has conferred with Gulf Coast governors and the mayor of New Orleans.

He began his rally speech offering the thoughts and prayers of the nation to those in harm's way from Isaac.

"We are gonna make sure we are doing every single thing that we need to do to ensure that the folks down there are taken care of and have the support and the love of the rest of this country."

It did not escape White House notice that it was seven years ago today that Hurricane Katrina unleashed its torrents of damage on the Gulf Coast. Wanting to avoid the mistakes made by President George W. Bush in handling Katrina, the White House wants Mr. Obama to be seen as aggressively overseeing the federal response to Isaac.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.