President Barack Obama's campaign released a new ad on Monday that takes aim squarely at his greatest vulnerability: the sour economy. The ad emphasizes that the president inherited the financial disaster when he took office and insists that, thanks to his policies, "we're coming back."
The minute-long message, dubbed "Go," will air in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida and Colorado—all seen as battleground states in the November election.
The ad opens with "2008: An economic meltdown" and highlights spiking unemployment rates, foreclosures, plummeting stocks and then emphasizes that they came "all before this president took the oath." The video goes on to talk about Obama's decision to champion the automobile industry bailout opposed by Mitt Romney. It then takes viewers on a foreign policy detour, showcasing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden with what appears to be night-vision footage of a military operation, as the narrator boasts of "our greatest enemy brought to justice by our greatest heroes." It also touches on the troop withdrawal from Iraq, then pivots back to the economy.
"Instead of losing jobs, we're creating them. Over 4.2 million so far," it says, before acknowledging that "we're not there yet … it's still too hard for too many." But "we're coming back."
The ad is notable in part for what it doesn't show: Romney never appears, and opposition to Obama is reduced to a few images of tea party rallies, including one shot of a demonstrator in colonial garb with a "Shut 'Er Down" sign. Obama's two signature domestic policy achievements, his health care overhaul and the Dodd-Frank rewrite of Wall Street rules, are missing, as is the $800 billion stimulus package he championed as necessary to revive the economy.
The ad drew a quick response from the Romney campaign, with spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg charging that Obama's policies "have wreaked havoc on the middle class."
"After a doubling of gas prices, declining incomes, millions of foreclosures, and record levels of unemployment, Americans know they're not better off than they were four years ago," Henneberg said in an emailed statement. "Mitt Romney's pro-growth agenda will get America back on track and stop the middle-class squeeze of the Obama economy."
And the Republican National Committee seized on Obama's strategic insistence that he inherited this troubled economy. "President Obama spends a lot of time looking backward and blaming others for the state of the American economy," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who charged that "Obama may want you to forget he's been president for the past three and a half years."
Recent polls have shown that many Americans think the economy is still in recession, and that more people have confidence in Romney than in Obama when it comes to spurring growth. The economy tops the list of issues most on voters' minds. At his first major rallies of the 2012 campaign, the president explicitly sought to steer the debate over the weekend away from the classic political question "are you better off than you were four years ago?" and asked Americans to "keep believing in me."
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