GOLDEN, Colo. — Mitt Romney promised Thursday that his economic program will create 12 million new jobs in the next four years, and likened President Barack Obama to a "dog trying to chase its tail" when it comes to strengthening the sluggish recovery.
Firing back instantly, Obama said his rival favors "trickle-down fairy dust" that has failed to fix the economy in the past, and unleashed a new television ad with a scathing summation of Romney's tax plans: "He pays less. You pay more."
The two men campaigned in battleground states hundreds of miles apart, the incumbent in Florida, his challenger in Colorado, both on a mission to convert undecided voters to their side in a race dominated by the economy and high joblessness.
Nor was there any summer lull in the television ad wars. Americans For Prosperity, an independent group that backs Romney, intends to launch a $25 million ad campaign beginning next week, according to officials familiar with the arrangements. The organization was founded by David and Charles Koch, billionaire brothers, and has spent about $15 million in swing states this year on ads attacking Obama.
For Romney, the day meant a return to domestic campaigning after a weeklong overseas trip. Aides say he intends to disclose a vice presidential pick before the Republican National Convention opens Aug. 27 in Tampa but the former Massachusetts governor told reporters: "I've got nothing to give you" by way of information on his decision.
Instead, he unveiled what aides called Romney's plan for more jobs and more take-home pay, backed by an eight-page paper arguing that the economic stimulus and other policies backed by Obama "exacerbated the economy's structural problems and weakened the recovery . . . At the present rate of job creation, the nation will never return to full employment," it said, on the eve of the release of the government's official report on July joblessness.
After today's jobs report is released, Obama plans to use the backdrop of the White House and surround himself with families who would benefit from the election year middle-class tax cut he's pushing Congress to adopt. "As dysfunctional as Washington can be, this fight is far from hopeless," White House senior adviser David Plouffe said in an email.
In remarks in Golden, Colo., Romney said his economic policies would lead to creation of 12 million jobs in the four years of his term, if he is elected, and help make North America energy independent, a pledge that aides said included Canada and Mexico as well as the United States.
Romney pledged expanded international trade, particularly with Latin America, and vowed to confront China over its policies. "I'm finally going to sit down with the Chinese and they're going to understand that if they cheat there are going to be consequences, because we're not going to let them walk all over us," the former Massachusetts governor said.
He said he would help small business owners, improve the education system and cut spending to reduce the deficit, but he offered relatively few specifics.