In an interview on CBS This Morning, Romney said the attack ads being run by the Obama team, and allied Obama-supporting Super Pac groups, had sought to divide the country.
"If you look at the ads that have been described and the divisiveness based upon income, age, ethnicity and so forth, it's designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealously and anger … the president seems to be running just to hang on to power. I think he'll do anything in his power to try and get re-elected," Romney said in the first solo interview since announcing Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.
One particularly controversial ad, produced by the Obama-supporting Super Pac Priorities USA Action, features a man claiming his wife died of cancer after losing her health insurance when his factory was closed by Romney's former firm Bain Capital.
Despite a storm of criticism over the accuracy of its claims, the ad has now aired on a TV station in the key swing state of Ohio. However, a spokesman for the Super Pac has said the ad was aired via a "station error". That has cut little ice with the Romney camp.
Matt Rhoades, Romney's campaign manager, said: "They claim the station aired it by mistake. But if they didn't intend to air it, why would they ship the false ad to TV stations in the first place? President Obama once set the highest expectations and is now engaged in the lowest form of campaigning."
The argument is the latest spat to roil a campaign been marred by fierce disputes over political attack ads and comments by vice-president Joe Biden. Speaking at a rally in Virginia, he told a mixed-race crowd that the Republicans were "… going to put y'all back in chains".
That last comment led to Republican accusations that Biden had been race-baiting: something the Democrats denied by pointing out he had been talking about Wall Street and how Romney wanted to "unchain" the banking industry from regulations.
But in the television interview Romney did not let the issue die down. "These personal attacks, I think, are demeaning to the office of the White House and the comments yesterday by the vice-president, I think, just diminish the White House that much more," he said.
Experts say that the 2012 campaign so far has been the most negative in recent memory in the US, spurred largely by the huge amounts of unrestrained cash flowing into the coffers of outside groups like Super Pacs.
"There is so much money and therefore the quantity of negative ads is so much more than we have ever seen. They know it is far more effective to tear someone down than build somebody up," said professor David Cohen, a political scientist at the University of Akron in Ohio.
At the moment the negative campaigning seems to be working for Obama and his supporters. Most recent polls show Obama ahead of Romney in national polls with a narrow but firm lead. The situation in the key battleground states – where the election will be decided and where most negative ads have been running – often shows a stronger lead for Obama.
Many experts believe that Romney's weekend pick of the firebrand Ryan as his vice-presidential candidate was a sign that the Republican believes he needed to shake up his campaign in order to stand a chance at the ballot box in November.
But the Romney team's attempt to paint Obama as a negative campaigner may lead to allegations of hypocrisy. Romney's campaign, and the Super Pacs who back it, have not been shy of airing negative attack ads themselves. Romney also revealed a ruthless side during the Republican nomination race where he and his supporters unleashed a barrage of negative ads that helped beat off the challenges of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. "Negative campaigning is very much coming from both sides," said Cohen.
There are also other shadowy organisations beginning to get involved. On Wednesday a group called Special Operations Opsec Education Fund launched a 22-minute long video called Dishonorable Disclosures, aimed at attacking Obama for taking credit for the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and for security leaks from his administration.
Though Opsec says it is an independent, non-partisan group made up of former special forces soldiers, the group's video explicitly goes after Obama. Its leader, former navy seal Scott Taylor, is also a former Republican congressional candidate. The group's formation has prompted comparisons to the Swift Boat campaign of 2004 which helped derail senator John Kerry's bid for the White House by questioning his service record in the Vietnam war.
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