CINCINNATI — Using unusually vivid language, Mitt Romney tried to take the political offensive against President Obama on Monday, accusing Obama of cronyism that “stinks” in steering federal contracts to supporters. He also dropped hints via a spokesman that a vice-presidential pick could come any day.

Unfazed, Obama needled his rival for finally having a job-creation plan – for people overseas.

At the same time, though Romney tried to switch the campaign focus, questions about his tenure at Bain Capital, a venture capital company, seemed destined to shape the conversation at least a while longer.

‘THE JOBS WOULDN’T BE IN AMERICA’

On a day devoted mainly to raising money, Romney went on Fox News to complain that all Obama can do “is attack me” on Bain and other subjects rather than taking useful steps to improve the economy.

Sure enough, the Democratic incumbent showed no sign of letting up.

Rallying for support in crucial Ohio, Obama said Romney’s proposal to free companies from taxes on their foreign holdings would displace American workers. The president cited a study he said concluded that “Gov. Romney’s economic plan would, in fact, create 800,000 jobs. There’s only one problem: The jobs wouldn’t be in America.”

Romney’s campaign, itself moving to the attack, contended that Obama’s Energy Department has steered loans and grants to several companies connected to the president’s political supporters.

Romney, speaking to donors in Baton Rouge, La., said Obama had a policy of “taking your tax dollars and putting it in businesses owned by contributors to his campaign. And that is smelly at best. It stinks.”

Romney aides cited some well-known cases, such as Solyndra, a California solar energy company that went bankrupt, and some less-publicized cases. They include Westly Group, a venture capital firm whose affiliated companies have received federal loans and grants.

Steve Westly, the company’s founder, is a major Obama campaign fundraiser.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said some Energy Department grants have gone to projects with “just as robust connections to Republican campaigns and donors.”

While Obama held a town hall in Ohio, Romney raised money in the safely Republican states of Louisiana and Mississippi.

He told donors who paid up to $50,000 to attend a Jackson, Miss., fundraiser that it was a good time to be a friend of the Obama campaign, but not a good time to be in the middle class.

“I know that people in this room are probably doing relatively well, relative to folks across this country. But not everyone in America is doing so well right now,” he said. “The waiters and waitresses that come in and out of this room and offer us refreshments – they’re not having a good year.”

VEEP TEASER FLOATED

Romney, who struggled during the GOP primary to explain his suggestion that he doesn’t care about the very poor, spoke directly to the poor Monday.

“We’re the party of people who want to get rich,” he said. “And we’re also the party of people who want to care to help people from getting poor. We want to help the poor.”

Addressing another major election point of interest, top Romney adviser Eric Fehrn-strom said that the campaign may announce a vice-presidential choice by the end of the week. That would be sooner than many have expected .

The timing was far from certain. Asked whether the announcement could come this week, Fehrnstrom said: “Technically it could, but the governor hasn’t made a decision.”

The past several days of the campaign have centered on Romney’s past work at Bain Capital and whether he’s been straightforward about the timing of his departure, a line of attack that Obama is exploiting to try to undermine public support in Romney’s business credentials and trustworthiness.

Obama assailed Romney’s tax plans for U.S. businesses Monday.

At his Ohio event, Obama cited an article in the publication Tax Notes suggesting that Romney’s tax proposals would encourage U.S. companies to create up to 800,000 jobs overseas. Romney supports “a territorial tax system,” which would allow overseas profits made by U.S. companies to avoid federal taxation.

GOP DEFENDS TAX PROPOSALS

Romney’s campaign cited campaign disclosure reports showing that the article’s author, Reed College economist Kimberly Clausing, has donated money to Obama’s campaign. Republicans say Romney’s overall tax proposals would encourage greater job growth at home.

Romney “has a comprehensive plan to reform the corporate tax code that will lower rates, get rid of incentives for firms to create jobs in other countries, and encourage the kind of economic growth President Obama has been unable to deliver,” said campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.

For all the tax talk, the presidential campaign couldn’t seem to shake Bain, the company that Romney led in the 1990s to numerous successful corporate restructurings, and to some less happy ventures that ended in bankruptcy or other problems.

Romney has said he left Bain in early 1999, shortly before it invested in companies that pioneered job outsourcing. Romney says he played no role in those transactions and decisions.

Two years later, however, Bain was still filing disclosure documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that named Romney as the firm’s CEO, president, sole shareholder and “the controlling person.” At least one document in early 2001 said Romney’s “principal occupation” was as Bain’s managing director.

Bain says it took some time for disclosure forms to catch up with management changes at the firm.

Romney says he was working full time on the Winter Olympic Games starting in early 1999. Democrats say Romney has yet to satisfactorily explain.

Romney traveled to Louisiana to attend a private fundraiser alongside Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is on Romney’s short list for vice president. Romney raised an estimated $2 million at the event, where 40 donors paid $50,000 to attend.

Jindal has campaigned aggressively for Romney recently, as have others thought to be under consideration. They include Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Obama raised at least $625,000 at his own fundraiser at the Cincinnati Music Hall before his public appearance.