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Obama epithet raises ire of Romney campaign

by
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) looks over at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the second U.S. presidential campaign debat
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) looks over at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the second U.S. presidential campaign debat

(Note language in paragraph 6)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's use of a barnyard epithet in what was widely interpreted as a swipe at Mitt Romney in a soon-to-be-published magazine article drew an angry response from the Republican candidate's campaign on Thursday.

Obama and Romney have traded jabs about each other's honesty and trustworthiness for weeks, especially during a series of televised debates, but the president seemed to have taken that to a new level in the lead-up to the November 6 election.

An article in the latest edition of Rolling Stone recounts how the magazine's executive editor, Eric Bates, offered Obama some words of encouragement from his 6-year-old daughter at the end of an October 11 interview in the Oval Office.

Grinning, Obama was quoted as saying: "I do very well, by the way, in that demographic. Ages six to 12? I'm a killer."

"Thought about lowering the voting age?" Bates joked.

"You know, kids have good instincts," Obama said, according to an advance copy of the wide-ranging interview to be published on Friday. "They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell.'"

The Romney campaign quickly fired back in response to Obama's comment, which was widely circulated in political blogs and social media.

"President Obama is rattled and on the defensive," senior Romney adviser Kevin Madden said. "He's running on empty and has nothing left but attacks and insults. It's unfortunate he has to close the final days of the campaign this way."

The White House did not dispute the accuracy of Obama's quotes, but a re-election campaign official stressed that the comments were "part of a casual conversation at the end of the interview."

With the race for the White House in a dead heat after the candidates' third and final debate on Monday, Obama has used a hectic schedule of campaign rallies this week to raise questions about whether Romney can be trusted to run the country.

Obama has even taken to using the term "Romnesia" to mock what he sees as his rival's politically motivated shifts in policy positions.

But when asked during the Rolling Stone interview whether Romney had lied to the American people when he appeared to have changed positions in the final stretch of the campaign, Obama would only say that the Republican and his aides had tried to "fuzz up" his proposals.

The article was written by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

(Additional reporting by Sam Youngman; Writing by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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