The former Bain Capital executive has been under heat from within his party over his response to attacks that he shipped jobs overseas. His staff made sure to distribute a newspaper story critical of Obama's own outsourcing record, loading up every press seat on the campaign plane with it.
"If there's an outsourcer-in-chief, it's the president of the United States, not the guy who's running to replace him," Romney said in Grand Junction, Colo.
The Romney camp cited a Washington Post story that describes an ongoing trend of American jobs shifting to low-wage countries, including during Obama's presidency. The story offers a critical look at the president's progress in halting the pattern.
On the battle over taxes, Obama wants a one-year extension of tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000, which would cover most taxpayers. Romney supports extending the federal tax cuts, first signed by George W. Bush, for all income earners. Congress is under deadline to act by year's end or everyone's taxes go up.
"Doesn't it make sense for us to agree to keep taxes low for 98 percent of Americans who are working hard and can't afford a tax hike right now?" Obama said. "What do you normally do if you agree on 98 percent and disagree on 2 percent? Why don't you compromise to help the middle class?"
Romney countered that "the very idea of raising taxes on small businesses and job creators at the very time we need more jobs is the sort of thing only an extreme liberal can come up with."
The debate played out as the Obama campaign sought to undermine Romney on a separate front, accusing him of untrustworthy secrecy.
In a speech to Hispanic leaders in Las Vegas, Vice President Biden attacked Romney's refusal to release more than one year of his personal tax returns. Romney has released his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011.
"He wants you to show your papers, but he won't show us his," Biden said, referring to Romney's support for an Arizona immigration law that allows police to check the immigration status of people they stop.
The Obama campaign also posted a YouTube video Tuesday that asked: "How long can Romney keep information on his investments in overseas tax havens secret? And why did he do it in the first place?"
Romney aides have called the attacks an "unfounded character assault" by a campaign desperate to distract attention from a sluggish economy.
Romney says his financial records contain nothing illegal.
"I have followed the law," he said Tuesday on Fox News. "I have paid my taxes as due. I have also disclosed through all of the requirements of the government, every asset which I own, fairly and honestly, recognizing, of course, not to do so would be not only wrong but illegal and criminal."