HEMPSTEAD, New York — Obama debate partner and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry launched into a fierce attack on Mitt Romney's record as governor of his home state just hours before the second presidential debate.
"The numbers don’t add up, the record is not real," Kerry said of Romney's tenure. "This is one of the great charades of all time in my judgment."
Kerry said he's spent months studying Romney's record for debate prep with Obama, adding Romney's efforts to call himself bipartisan “is the most flim-flam-est political artistry I’ve ever seen."
"The debt burden per capita in the state of Massachusetts was the highest in the nation," Kerry said. "He raised fees — 120 fees raised on the middle class, and 278 of the wealthiest families in Massachusetts got a tax break. That tells you how he's going to govern."
“The most telling thing of all, he’s not even contesting the state that he governed,” Kerry added.
Asked whether Obama would make the same points in tonight's debate, Kerry demurred. "No, I'm talking," he said. This is John Kerry talking."
"Can I say something else about Mitt Romney and Massachusetts," Kerry asked the throng of reporters surrounding him. "This guy loves elevators. He has an elevator in his home for his cars, and when he was in the statehouse he insisted he have elevator, parked a state police officer outside it, Guarded the elevator for only Mitt Romney, and put a velvet rope up outside his office."
Asked whether that was the type of substance the American people want to hear in tonight's debate, Kerry replied, "I think that's very telling about a governor who claims to have been bipartisan."
Kerry declined to talk about the specifics of Obama's debate preparation, but hinted that Obama would layout specifics about his plans for the next four years.
“The President is very excited about talking about his vision for the next four years," Kerry said.
Kerry was the latest in a series of Obama surrogates, from campaign manager Jim Messina to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean to try to set the stage for the debate — something the campaign has not done at prior debates.
The Obama campaign quickly followed Kerry's statement with corroborating comments from other Massachusetts Democrats attacking Romney's record.