Mitt Romney on Wednesday sought to woo middle class voters in a new television ad that portrayed President Obama as bleeding dry working families to pay for his health care overhaul.
It was the latest salvo in a campaign in which each candidate is attempting to use class warfare to his advantage. Obama has hammered Romney as preoccupied with protecting the interests of the wealthiest Americans, squeezing low-income people to pay for substantial tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
But Romney countered that lofty social services promises from the president would ultimately hit voters in their pocketbooks.
"Some think Obamacare is the same as free health care," the new Romney ad states. "Obama is raiding $716 billion from Medicare, changing the program forever, taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers, raising taxes on families making less than $120,000. Free health care comes at a very high price."
Such a message plays well with Romney's base, according to those conducting focus groups of likely voters.
"The greatest advantage the Romney folks have is the green eyeshade factor," said Patrick Griffin, a senior fellow with the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. "They can bring the numbers associated with Obama's policies directly to the middle class and say, 'If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.'"
Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said, "It's a very sharp angle for Romney to take. By looking at where the costs are going to show up [with Obama's reforms], it dispels this notion that Romney only cares about the rich."
At the same time, Obama on Wednesday extended his attacks on the Romney-Ryan ticket to paint the duo as aloof. Instead of targeting Ryan's proposed changes to Medicare, that has been a focus of the campaign, the president pivoted to education policy.
In a new television spot, the Obama campaign says that Romney's embrace of the Ryan budget plan would cause classroom sizes to explode and gut investments in education.
Focusing on Romney, a woman in the ad declares, "These are all issues that, really, he personally cannot relate to."
The Obama ad is running in the crucial battleground states of Ohio and Virginia, where victories would all but ensure the president retains control of the White House.
Just as Romney's focus on the hidden costs to the middle class of Obama's promises fires up the GOP base, loyal Democrats welcome the latest clarion call from the president on education, analysts said.
"The Republican obsession with tax cuts will lead to large deficits and starve needed investments like education," said Simon Rosenberg, a presidential campaign adviser for Bill Clinton and founder of the think-tank, NDN. "In contrast, the things [Romney's surrogates] are saying right now are shockingly ineffective because they aren't true."
The latest messaging blitz from Obama will augment his portrayal of Romney as an out-of-touch businessman who keeps his money sheltered in overseas tax havens.
But with the rollout of Romney's vice presidential pick, Obama has focused more in recent days on the policy implications of the Republican ticket, saying a GOP victory would be disastrous for working class and low-income Americans.