By Peter Hamby, CNN Political Reporter
Williamsburg, Virginia (CNN) – The war of words over Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital flared Friday morning inside a Virginia trucking company, as the state’s normally mild-mannered Gov. Bob McDonnell harshly rebuked the Obama campaign for demanding that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee release more of his tax returns.
At a press conference inside a Williamsburg trucking company organized by the Republican Governors Association to coincide with President Obama’s campaign swing through the commonwealth, McDonnell and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker derided the president for using Bain to distract from his “horrible” record in the White House.
Walker and McDonnell were in Williamsburg to attend the annual meeting of the National Governors Association.
“All that wonderful lofty hope and change rhetoric in 2008 has now delved into a message of division and destruction and malaise,” McDonnell told reporters.
After spending several minutes picking apart President Obama’s record on job creation and spending, McDonnell became animated when a reporter asked if Romney should release more than just two years of tax returns in order to put to rest questions about his personal investments and offshore holdings.
McDonnell called on the president to pull his campaign ads accusing Romney of outsourcing jobs while at Bain. He bluntly accused Obama of running a “reckless” and “irresponsible” campaign designed to “scare people.”
“For this president to run his campaign on ads about Bain Capital, which are absolutely false misrepresentations, he has been called out by the Washington Post, by FactCheck.org, he his just flat wrong,” McDonnell said, beads of sweat gathering on his brow. “It’s false and he ought to pull those ads. To talk about Mitt Romney’s tax returns, when he has complied with the law, he ought to be talking about taxes and energy and getting people back to work and reducing the debt.”
Walker made a similar argument, accusing Obama of trying to change the subject from his record in office.
When asked if Bain is fair part of Romney’s record to examine, Walker said people should focus on his record as governor of Massachusetts.
And McDonnell, standing off to the side, shook his head and said, “No, no.”
He took to the podium again and said that if Bain did engage in the outsourcing of jobs, it happened after Romney left Bain in 1999 (though the exact time of Romney’s departure from the private equity firm is currently the subject of debate).
“All these attacks are things that happened after Mitt Romney left as the managing director of Bain,” McDonnell said. “To the degree that there is any truth to these outsourcing allegations — these are things that happened after 1999.”
McDonnell touted Romney’s record at Bain as recently as May.
“As Governor of Massachusetts and head of Bain Capital, he did enormous work to stimulate entrepreneurship and free enterprise, over 100,000 new jobs,” he recently told Fox News.