Romney: Obama campaign "disgrace" to presidency

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at the Ross County Court House, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012 in Chillicothe, Ohio.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

(CBS News) Seizing on controversial remarks made by Vice President Joe Biden yesterday, Mitt Romney on Tuesday blasted President Obama for running a campaign he said was a "disgrace" to the presidency, and accused his rival of being "intellectually exhausted, out of ideas, and out of energy."

Romney, speaking in Chillicothe, Ohio at his final event of the day, jumped into the debate over Biden's accusation that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would "put you all back in chains" by unshackling Wall Street.

"His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the Presidency," Romney told a crowd of about 5,000 people. "Another outrageous charge just came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower."

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Hours earlier, Biden told more than 800 supporters, many of whom were African-American, that Romney wants to repeal the financial regulations enacted after the Wall Street crash of 2008, and that Republicans are "going to put you all back in chains" with their economic and regulatory policies.

Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul immediately decried the remarks as "desperate," while Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager of the Obama campaign, called Saul's statement "faux outrage." Biden later clarified his remarks, arguing he had meant to say "unshackle," a term Republicans had used in that context themselves.

Romney pointed to Biden's remarks as evidence that, facing a flagging candidacy, Mr. Obama was resorting to "diversions and distractions."

"He's intellectually exhausted, out of ideas, and out of energy," Romney said. "And so his campaign has resorted to diversions and distractions, to demagoging and defaming others. It's an old game in politics; what's different this year is that the president is taking things to a new low."

Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt responded that Romney's comments "seemed unhinged," and were "particularly strange coming at a time when he's pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false."

The scuffle continued Wednesday morning, when Romney reiterated his accusations in an appearance on "CBS This Morning."

"The president's campaign is about division and attack and hatred. My campaign is about getting America back to work and creating greater unity in this country which has always been the source of America's vitality and strength," he said.

Asked about the Obama campaign's characterization that he seemed unhinged, Romney said, "I could be much more dramatic, I think. I think unhinged would have to characterize what we've seen from the president's campaign."

"I know what I'm running for. I want to get America working again with more take home pay. The president seems to be running to hang on to power. I think he'll do anything in his power to try and get re-elected," he continued. "These personal attacks, I think, are demeaning to the office of the White House and the comments yesterday by the Vice President, I think, just diminish the White House that much more."

The Obama campaign pointed to its Tuesday night statement in response to Romney's comments on CBS, which LaBolt said "look like a retread of the speech" Romney gave last night.