RENO, Nev. (AP) — President Barack Obama accused rival Mitt Romney of being oblivious to the burdens of paying for college on Tuesday, telling young voters in battleground Ohio that his opponent's education policies amount to nothing more than encouraging them to tap their parents for money or "shop around" for the best deal.
"This is his plan. That's his answer to a young person hoping to go to college — shop around and borrow more money from your parents if you have to. Not only is that not a good answer, it's not even an answer," Obama said at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno.
Turning to young voters, a key part of his 2008 coalition, the president sought to draw a bright line with Romney on education policy in his latest attempt to meld Romney with the House Republican budget blueprint offered Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate.
Earlier, at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, he said: "Not everybody has parents who have the money to lend. That may be news to some folks."
Obama and Romney remain locked in a tight presidential campaign a week before the former Massachusetts governor formally claims his party's nomination at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. Both campaigns have broadened their message to voters in recent weeks beyond the economy, which remains the most pivotal issue for voters less than three months before the election.
Romney sought to distance himself from Missouri GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin, who apologized after saying in an interview that women's bodies are sometimes able to prevent pregnancies after what he called "a legitimate rape." Romney said in a statement that fellow Missouri Republicans had urged Akin to quit and "I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."
Romney was raising money to bolster his campaign in Texas, where he told donors that his campaign was "a little wiser in our spending of dollars" than Obama's campaign, pointing to new finance documents released by Obama's campaign on Monday that showed it spent more money in July than it brought in.
Romney and Republicans have outraised Obama and Democrats for the past three months, a sign of broad GOP interest in defeating the incumbent president.
"I'm not managing their campaign for them, but we're going to spend our money wiser," Romney said in Houston, where he was expected to pull in more than $6 million. "We're going to spend it to win."
In a nod to oil-rich Texas, Romney told donors he planned to announce a "comprehensive energy plan" during a stop in New Mexico later this week but offered few details beyond a focus in part on fossil-based fuels. Romney said his aim was to "fully take advantage of our energy resources."
Romney's campaign countered the president's education critique, saying college costs had skyrocketed under Obama's watch and his economic policies had made it difficult for recent college graduates to find work. Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said Obama's policies were "just more of the same from a president who hasn't fixed the economy or kept his promises to the young people who supported him four years ago."
Obama's line of criticism delivered in Ohio and then again at a community college in Reno, dovetailed with his campaign's unrelenting effort to cast Romney as out of touch, playing off his wealth and his background in private equity. Ryan, meanwhile, sought to reassure voters about his and Romney's stance on Medicare and sustained the GOP's efforts to cast Obama as a divisive figure.
Ryan tried to blunt criticism of his plan to overhaul Medicare, saying his plan would protect the program for seniors' grandchildren.
"You're going to hear a whole lot of distortions because that's all he has to offer," Ryan told a rally in the hull of Beaver Steel near Pittsburgh. He reminded voters in western Pennsylvania of a comment Obama made during the 2008 campaign, saying some voters in small towns "cling to guns or religion."
"I'm a Catholic deer hunter. I'm happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion," said Ryan, who walked on stage swinging a black-and-gold Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towel, a nod to the popular hometown football team.