WASHINGTON - Call it the battle of dueling mailers, with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in one corner and the nation's unions, represented by the AFL-CIO, in the other.
In a mass mailer to his big givers late last month, the former Bain Capital tycoon not only slams Democratic President Barack Obama and his party for the state of the economy, but he stops just short of calling Obama a socialist - and reminds his readers that labor backs the president.
The federation's mailer to union members and supporters in key swing states such as Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, isn't asking for money. Instead, it reminds them of Romney's condescending comments in Boca Raton. There, he told his big givers, behind closed doors, that 47% of the country is dependent on government - and that he doesn't care about those people, including veterans and the elderly.
The mailers are another indication of the real state of the two presidential campaigns, far from the scripted speeches and sound bites of the nominees.
Romney's mass-mailer, robo-signed "Mitt," seeks at least $5,000 and all the way up to $78,500 from each donor, promising special dedicated access for each big giver.
"Remember, the president's campaign is expected to spend a billion dollars and his liberal allies, special interests and powerful unions are willing to spend millions more to keep the liberals in power," Romney's letter screams, using "liberal" as an epithet.
His letter is consistent with Romney's prior denunciations of unions and workers. Romney has previously said he opposes extending collective bargaining rights for public workers and would abolish project labor agreements on federally funded construction, among other anti-worker stands.
And the GOP platform endorses both a national so-called "right to work" law, to deprive unions of dues from workers they represent, and so-called "voter ID" laws aimed at killing the right to vote by women, minorities, workers, students, the elderly and other foes of the GOP-Radical Right-business agenda.
Romney's statements against unions in the letter are no surprise. In an interview during the Democratic National Convention, Teamsters President James Hoffa told Huffington News that Romney's own website boasts of the candidate's anti-labor views.
"He wants to annihilate organized labor as we know it," Hoffa said. "It's on his website. I'm not making this up. He's for a national right-to-work law. The Republican Party has veered dangerously to the right. It's rather incredible, in 2012, if you think about it."
The AFL-CIO mailer, "Mitt Romney...Wrong about America again," focuses on the GOP nominee's Boca Raton comments, where he called about half the country "victims" who expect government to provide everything from meals to health care. Romney added then, the fed reminds readers, that he doesn't care about those voters.
In several of labor's targeted states, such as Massachusetts, the AFL-CIO mailer also ties Romney and the party platform to GOP U.S. Senate nominees in closely contested races. Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, where the fed's mailers are being initially distributed all have key and close Senate contests.
Romney's letter repeatedly hits Obama and congressional Democrats on the state of the economy, which is recovering from the Great Recession. While decrying the slump and joblessness, Romney blames Obama for federal budget deficits. Romney does not say how he would solve any of those ills, other than to "enact a pro-growth agenda," and, in a postscript, "conservative reforms to get our fiscal house in order."
And Romney's letter says Obama's policies failed, without mentioning policies, imposed by former GOP President George W. Bush and his Right Wing and business backers that ran the nation into the ditch into the first place. It also does not mention that congressional Republicans-whom Romney's letter also shills for - have blocked other pro-worker recovery plans.