DUBUQUE, Iowa (Reuters) - Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney on Saturday scolded U.S. President Barack Obama for encouraging his supporters to get “revenge” at polling stations, as both men fought for an edge in the razor-thin election.
Three days before Tuesday’s Election Day, Romney added a line to his stump speech criticizing the Democratic incumbent for using the word in an unscripted remark during a speech on Friday.
“The president said something that I’ve already heard that I found troubling,” Romney told supporters at an airport rally in Dubuque, Iowa, his second stop of a four-stop sprint through three battleground states.
“He spoke to an audience and said voting is the best revenge. He’s asking his supporters to vote for revenge. I’m asking you to vote for love of country,” Romney said, to chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A,” from the crowd.
Obama made his revenge comment during a stop in Springfield, Ohio, on Friday, telling supporters not to boo when they heard Romney’s name.
“Don’t boo, vote. Voting’s the best revenge,” he said. Obama did not explain the comment, although a spokesman on Saturday played it down.
Romney’s campaign launched a new video advertisement featuring Obama’s remark, and Romney’s rebuttal, on Saturday.
Congressman Paul Ryan, Romney’s vice presidential running mate, sounded the same theme during his swing through Ohio, one of the hotly contested states expected to decide the election.
“Just yesterday he was asking his supporters at a rally to vote out of revenge. Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote out of love of country. We don’t believe in revenge. We believe in change and hope, we actually do,” he told about 1,500 supporters at a college gym in Marietta.
Obama’s campaign dismissed the criticism during the president’s own multi-state campaign swing on Saturday.
“The message he was sending is, if you don’t like the policies, if you don’t like the plan that Governor Romney is putting forward, if you think it’s a bad deal for the middle class, then you have power - you can go to the voting booths and you can cast your ballot,” Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Obama’s campaign, told reporters traveling on Air Force One.
“It’s nothing more complicated than that.”
Additional reporting by Samuel P. Jacobs in Marietta, Ohio; Editing By Alistair Bell and Vicki Allen