Mitt Romney is starting to spell out specifics for his tax reform plan in advance of his first debate with President Obama, describing what amounts to a choose-your-own-deduction approach.
The Republican presidential nominee got into detail briefly during an interview with Fox Denver affiliate KDVR -- and in doing so moved to undercut the Obama campaign narrative that he's hiding details of how he would cut taxes by 20 percent while still keeping his plan deficit-neutral.
The Obama campaign has hammered Romney for keeping to himself the particulars of how he'd cut taxes across the board while finding enough deductions to trim to keep the plan deficit-neutral.
"Romney has never explained how he would pay for his massive new tax cut for the wealthiest," Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in a memo released Wednesday morning. "Romney won't name which deductions he'll eliminate, asking voters to trust that he'll work it out with Congress after the election."
Romney may at least come armed with his "bucket"-list proposal on stage in Denver Wednesday night.
Each campaign, though, has been carefully managing expectations for the showdown. Obama's advisers claim Romney arrives with practice from the primary season under his belt. Romney's advisers note Obama is the only one on stage tonight with any general election debate experience.
But Romney's campaign has gotten aggressive in the hours leading up to the faceoff. Republicans seized on a comment by Vice President Biden in North Carolina Tuesday in which he said the middle class has been "buried" over the last four years.
Romney and running mate Paul Ryan pointed to the admission as proof of what they've been arguing all along. The comment played into their central claim ahead of a debate on domestic policy that Obama's policies have hurt the middle class.
"We agree," Ryan said in Iowa. "That means we need to stop digging by electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States."
The Obama campaign, though, called it a "desperate and out-of-context attack."
The debate, one of three this month in addition to a vice presidential forum, is both high-risk and high-reward. A well-phrased retort from either candidate could redound to their benefit in the polls, while an awkward moment could have the opposite effect.