Obama the attacker: ‘Hope and Change’ meets swift boat tactics

Rick Klein, Amy Walter, Richard Coolidge & Sherisse Pham
Power Players

Top Line

The Obama campaign is going retro, circa 2004. Back then, President Bush supporters attacked then-Democratic candidate John Kerry on what was supposed to be Kerry's greatest strength -- his military service. A group known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth undermined that strength, calling into question Kerry's credentials and military awards. And thus was born "swiftboating" -- a term used to describe unfair or untrue political attacks.

The latest wave of Obama attacks is like Bain boating. The president's re-election campaign is armed with surrogates tasked with specific duties, making the case early and often that voters should be questioning Mitt Romney's taxes, off-shore accounts, and his record at Bain Capital. They are probing for different weaknesses, and aggressively attacking Romney at a time when voters should be talking about negative job numbers.

And they've succeeded. Romney has been unable to effectively respond to the attacks. The Obama campaign took advantage of the fact that Romney spent a week on vacation and hit him hard everywhere -- online, on TV, and in print.

Check out this week's Top line for more on Obama's negative campaign tactics, and whether all the negative campaigning has even had an impact on the race.

ABC News' Chris Good contributed to this report.