(CNN) – President Barack Obama took Mitt Romney to task on Monday, arguing the likely GOP presidential nominee's history as a corporate CEO does anything but qualify him for the Oval Office.
"When you're president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot," the president said during a press conference at the NATO summit in Chicago.
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Obama's stinging comments marked the boiling point in a weeklong back-and-forth between the two camps over the actions of Romney's former equity firm, Bain Capital.
Team Obama has aggressively zeroed in on Bain, hammering Romney as a greedy businessman and releasing videos that feature laid-off workers at companies bought by his former company. Their attacks echo previous criticism of Romney's corporate experience raised by some of his opponents during the Republican primary.
The negative campaigning escalated to a point in which some called for the attacks to stop. Obama supporter and Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker made headlines Sunday morning when he argued Bain should be off limits, though he quickly changed his tune later that afternoon, saying Romney's private sector experience was fair game, after all.
Asked about Booker's comments on Monday, Obama said Romney's private equity experience should be up for debate, arguing the candidate uses his private sector tenure as his "main calling card" on the campaign trail.
"If your main argument for how to grow the economy is 'I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,' then you're missing what this job is about," Obama said.
Careful not to fuel Republican backlash, Obama said maximizing profits is a "healthy part of the free market," but argued a president's role is different from that of a CEO.
"My job is to take into account everybody, not just some," the president said.
While Romney's team frequently chalks up the Bain attacks to an attempt by the Obama campaign to distract from other issues, the president insisted Monday the Bain question is here to stay.
"This is not a distraction," he said. "This is what this campaign is going to be about, is what is a strategy for us to move this country forward in a way where everybody can succeed."
Romney has repeatedly beat back efforts to sour his record over Bain. Romney has repeatedly beat back efforts to sour his record over Bain. On Monday, he responded to the president's comments, saying in a statement that Obama was continuing "his attacks on the free enterprise system."
"President Obama refuses to accept moral responsibility for his failed policies. My campaign is offering a positive agenda to help America get back to work," he said.
Bain also responded on Monday, releasing a statement decrying the recent ads and touting the firm's successes.
"Despite political attacks that emphasize the few companies that have struggled, the facts are that during Bain Capital's ownership, revenues grew in 80 percent of the more than 350 companies in which we have invested," the statement read.
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, said it's message will remain "Bain, Bain, Bain," an Obama campaign aide told CNN Monday.