THE RACE: Weak recovery weighing on Obama thrusts

Associated Press
President Barack Obama walks to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Thursday, July 19, 2012. Obama is spending Thursday and Friday in Florida campaigning. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Direct attacks on Republican Mitt Romney by President Barack Obama and a fusillade of negative campaign ads by his campaign are attracting a lot of attention but so far not providing much of a lift for the president.

While Romney is fighting back harder, the Obama onslaught has mostly forced him onto the defensive. The Obama camp is now aggressively pressing Romney to release more tax returns than he promised.

Earlier, it highlighted laid-off workers at companies his Bain Capital private equity firm acquired, Bain's role in shipping American jobs overseas and the timing of Romney's self-styled "retroactive retirement."

While the barrage may be cutting into Romney's argument that he has the business know-how to restore jobs, polls also show the limp economy is the most commanding factor influencing voters, which could help him.

Three new polls underscored this.

A New York Times-CBS News poll showed approval of Obama's economic stewardship slipping, with 39 percent saying they approved and 55 percent disapproving. In April — when the recovery seemed stronger — 44 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

Some 45 percent said they would vote for Romney if the election were held now, 43 percent said Obama — the first time Romney has led, although it was within the poll's margin of error.

An NPR poll showed 60 percent of Americans see the country as on the wrong track. Overall, Obama had a slight, but statistically insignificant lead, 47 percent to 45 percent.

A Fox News poll found that fewer than four voters in ten say they are better off today than four years ago.

The president on Thursday began a two-day swing through battleground Florida, where he is targeting seniors and the state's growing Latino population. He had campaign events Thursday in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach.

Romney had a single campaign event in the Boston area.

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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

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