WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Mitt Romney has locked
himself into "extreme positions" on economic and social issues and
would surely impose them if elected, trying to discredit his
Republican rival at the biggest political moment of his life.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Mr. Obama said Mr.
Romney lacks serious ideas, refuses to "own up" to the
responsibilities of what it takes to be president, and deals in
factually dishonest arguments that could soon haunt him in face-to-
Mr. Obama also offered a glimpse of how he would govern in a
second term of divided government, insisting rosily that the forces
of the election would help break Washington's stalemate. He said he
would be willing to make a range of compromises with Republicans,
confident there are some who would rather make deals than remain
part of "one of the least productive Congresses in American
With the remarks, Mr. Obama set up a contrast between Mr. Romney,
whom he cast as an extremist pushing staunchly conservative
policies, and himself, by saying he would work across party lines.
It was a seeming play for the independent voters who decide close
elections and tell pollsters they want to see the often-gridlocked
politicians in Washington solve the nation's problems.
Mainly, Mr. Obama was intent on countering Mr. Romney even before
his challenger got to the Republican National Convention, which
starts this week in Tampa, Fla. In doing so, the president depicted
his opponent as having accumulated ideas far outside the mainstream
with no room to turn back.
"I can't speak to Gov. Romney's motivations," Mr. Obama said.
"What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme
positions, that are very consistent with positions that a number of
House Republicans have taken. And whether he actually believes in
those or not, I have no doubt that he would carry forward some of
the things that he's talked about."
Mr. Obama spoke to the AP on Thursday before heading off to a
long weekend with his family at Camp David, the secluded
presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains.
The president was at ease but doggedly on script, steering even
personal-themed questions about Mr. Romney and running mate Paul
Ryan into answers about starkly different visions for helping the
Nearly 10 weeks before Election Day, the race is remarkably
stable and reflective of a sharply divided nation, with registered
voters about evenly split on their choice and nearly a quarter of
them unsure or still willing to change their mind. Across the
interview, Mr. Obama's messages often seemed directed at moderate
and independent voters whose sway could make the difference. …