Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a co-chairman of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, called Mitt Romney an "elitist" in an interview with CNN and previewed the Democrats' populist plan of attack against him in Ohio this fall if he becomes the Republican nominee.
"I think he is an elitist, and I think he is out of touch," Strickland said in a phone interview. "If I were the president, I would talk about the Cayman Islands, I would talk about Swiss bank accounts. What could persuade a man running for president to have Swiss bank account?
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"Those things say something about who he is, and what he thinks is. I think those are hugely relevant issues," Strickland said about Romney's investments in overseas tax havens over the years. "Why would anyone who wants to be president of our country open up a Swiss bank account? I think it's a relevant issue."
Strickland, who lost his 2010 re-election bid to Republican John Kasich in one of the closest races in the country, said Democrats in Ohio should work overtime to portray Romney as a wealthy business baron who can't connect with regular people.
"He has allowed a narrative to be developed which is probably an accurate one," Strickland told CNN. "I don't want to be too hard on him, but watching his desperate attempt to communicate with people in Michigan, talking about the height of trees? That was the most inauthentic thing I have ever seen coming out of politician's mouth. It was almost sad."
He added, "I felt some sympathy with the guy. He doesn't have it in his experiential repertoire to relate to ordinary people. He comes across as almost silly at times."
Strickland said the Obama campaign also plans to hang Romney's opposition to the federal bailout of the auto industry around his neck.
"The president needs to talk about the auto rescue here, and he needs to be talking about jobs and especially brining back manufacturing, which is important to a state like Ohio," he said.
While Detroit is ground zero for the American auto industry, Ohio is a home to a large number of facilities in the manufacturing supply chain that would have been impacted by the collapse of GM and Chrysler.
After months of worrying about the president's re-election chances, Strickland said he is more confident these days thanks in large part to the negative tenor of the GOP race, particularly the recent focus on birth control.
"President Obama is a very fortunate politician these days," he said. "I feel so much better about his ability to win Ohio than I did six or nine months ago. The Republicans hadn't self destructed at that point."