“It’s hyperbole every election to say, ‘This is the most negative election ever,’ ” says Republican consultant Dave Carney. “I think hyperbole will be fact this cycle.”…

“They don’t want to give independents a chance to get used to Mitt Romney as a credible president,” says Swint, a political scientist at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. “Those images of greed and laying people off — that’s what they want to shape over the summer.”…

“What they’re trying to do in both cases is to chip away at their opponent’s perceived strength,” says Jim Jordan, a Democratic consultant who served as Kerry’s campaign manager for part of his presidential run.

“As distasteful as it is for me to analogize between Obama and the Bush folks, that is a fair [comparison],” Jordan says. “It’s a very smart strategy for the Obama guys to be using.”