Nightly News | August 07, 2012
>>> now to the campaign trail where the dialogue has become a bit less than presidential in the past few days. the story from our nbc news political director and chief white house correspondent chuck todd .
>> reporter: it's been a bare knuckle campaign, and now the candidates themselves are getting into the act. president obama last night in connecticut.
>> it's like robin hood in reverse. it's romney hood.
>> mitt romney today with some name calling of his own.
>> we've been watching the president say a lot of things about me and about my policies. and they're just not right. and if i were to coin a term it would be obama loney.
>> reporter: and there's more. this new ad from the romney campaign.
>> under obama's plan you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. they just send you your welfare check.
>> reporter: prompted a heated response today from the white house .
>> let me say that this advertisement is categorically false and it is blatantly dishonest.
>> reporter: things first began to reel out of control last week when senate majority leader harry reid actually went on to the floor of the u.s. senate to claim an unnamed source had told him romney didn't pay taxes for ten years while at bain capital .
>> the word is out that he hasn't paid any taxes for ten years. let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't.
>> reporter: romney has called reid out repeatedly most recently today.
>> the message i gave harry reid was put up or shut up. i don't really believe he has any kind of credible source.
>> reporter: but reid just as doggedly refused to divulge his source or back up his claim with documentation. and the white house has stood aside letting the poisoned atmosphere fester.
>> i think the dispute here is between the romney campaign and harry reid . senator reid is, you know, doesn't take direction. he speaks for himself.
>> reporter: even the vice presidential speculation seemed to jump the rails today with this rumor from the drudge report that romney wants to name general david petraeus as his runningmate. late this afternoon the cia director general petraeus declared he is not a candidate. the real short list appears to be down to three, ohio senator rob portman , tim pawlenty the former governor of minnesota and wisconsin congressman paul ryan who may be higher on this list than washington insiders realize.
>> we can at least say we'll know in a matter of days. chuck todd in our d.c. newsroom tonight, thanks.