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THE RACE: Obama and Romney are increasing their attacks on each other on jobs and the economy
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are sharpening their economic talking points.
Romney wants to keep needling Obama over his comments on the private sector doing "fine" and Obama is likely seeking another opportunity for explaining himself.
Romney focused on the economy in a speech Tuesday in Orlando in which he saluted "entrepreneurs and innovators" whom he said "make the United States the economic powerhouse it is."
"Sometimes I don't think the president understands that," Romney said.
At the same time, Obama's campaign released a new ad disparaging Romney's economic record in leading Massachusetts from 2003-2007.
"When Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts was No. 1. Number one in state debt," says an announcer in the 30-second spot, citing a 2007 Moody's report showing state bond indebtedness equivalent to $4,153 per person.
It will air in battleground states Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and follows a $10 million ad campaign last week attacking job creation under Romney.
Obama will pit his economic agenda against Romney's in a campaign speech Thursday in Cleveland. The increased economic dueling by the campaigns comes amid discouraging economic reports.
Romney has called Obama "out of touch" for suggesting private-sector job growth was strong. Striking back, the Obama team is charging that Romney would lay off firefighters and teachers, an assertion that Romney on Tuesday called "absurd."
The Republican candidate begins a five-day bus tour on Friday through New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. His campaign says it will help show Obama's economic policies are failing everyday Americans.
Meanwhile, an emphasis on the economy "will be reflected in every action the president takes as long as he is in office," says White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Obama was campaigning Tuesday in Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APCampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2012