GLEN ALLEN, Va. — An unrelenting President Obama jabbed at Mitt Romney’s record with a private equity firm in an ad Saturday that aimed to keep his rival on the defensive just as the Republican challenger’s campaign hoped to take advantage of poor economic data to gain an edge on the incumbent.
Obama met Romney’s plea for an apology for the attacks with a mocking ad that charged that the firm shipped American jobs to China and Mexico; that Romney has personal wealth in investments in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands; and that as Massachusetts governor, he sent state jobs to India.
‘‘Mitt Romney’s not the solution; he’s the problem,’’ the ads says as Romney is heard singing ‘‘America the Beautiful.’’
A soaked Obama, campaigning in a downpour in closely contested Virginia, hewed to his middle class-centered pitch in remarks in the district represented by one of his top Republican nemeses, House majority leader Eric Cantor. Obama attacked Romney and his Republican allies for pursuing what the president branded as outdated and discredited economic policies.
Obama spoke to about 900 people in Glen Allen, arriving in a downpour. He eschewed a rain jacket or umbrella and apologized for ruining hairdos.
‘‘We’re going to have to treat everybody to a salon visit after this’’ he quipped.
Obama did not dwell on Romney’s business record, leaving the sharpest attacks to his campaign and the new television commercial. Still he played up the charge that Romney and the private equity firm he founded in 1984, Bain Capital, sent jobs overseas.
‘‘He invested in companies that have been called pioneers of outsourcing,’’ the president said, his shirt drenched and water streaming down his face. ‘‘I don’t want pioneers in outsourcing, I want some insourcing. I want to bring companies back.’’
While Obama hammered Romney for a second consecutive day in Virginia, Romney spent time with his family in New Hampshire, taking a weekend off from public events.
Romney aides began the week drumming Obama on stubbornly high unemployment, but watched their upper hand fade. Romney’s advisers said Saturday they would keep their plan and not be distracted by Obama’s criticism.
The intensifying attacks and the calls for greater openness came amid stepped up attention to discrepancies between Securities and Exchange Commission filings and Romney’s recollection of his role at Boston-based Bain Capital.
At stake is Romney’s chief contention that as a former businessman, he has the experience to create jobs and spur a struggling economy. The Obama campaign has countered that Romney ran a firm that pioneered the practice of sending American jobs out of the country. Romney insists that he stepped down from his private equity firm years earlier than federal records indicate
In a round of interviews broadcast Friday evening, the Republican candidate said he wouldn’t release more tax returns beyond the 2010 and 2011 returns. ‘‘You can never satisfy the opposition research team of the Obama organization,’’ Romney told CBS on Friday.