Mitt Romney's combative challenge to Obama: 'Where are the jobs?'

The Week

The presumptive Republican nominee accuses Obama of incompetently bungling the U.S. economy — establishing what's likely the defining theme of Mitt's campaign

Mitt Romney has penned an op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer assailing President Obama for mishandling the economy. He starts off with a simple question — "Where are the jobs?" — then goes on to say, "Mr. President, forgive me for being blunt, but when it comes to economic affairs, you’re out of your depth. Unlike you, I am not a career politician. Unlike you, I’ve spent more than two decades working in the private sector, starting new businesses and turning around failing ones. Undoing the damage you’ve done will be a daunting challenge." Coming on the day that the government reported weak job growth in April, and on the eve of a rally in Ohio at which Obama will formally kick off his reelection campaign, Romney's combative op-ed is being seen as the foundation of his entire candidacy. Is it effective?

Yes. He's playing to his strengths: Romney will be a "very dangerous" candidate if "voters accept that his success in the private sector" can be translated to turning around an entire economy, says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. Romney's challenge will be to project an "aura of basic competence," and convince voters of his premise that "an unshackled private sector " will "shower prosperity and opportunity on everyone."
"The premise of Mitt Romney's candidacy"

Obama will have to attack Romney's perceived competence: In order to succeed, Obama will have to "knock Romney off his pedestal of competence," says Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect. It will require a "full Democratic effort to tie Romney with the broader Republican Party, and President Bush in particular," whom most voters blame for the recession. By drawing a direct line between Bush's policies and Romney's, which are essentially the same, Obama can make the case that Romney is "uniquely unqualified to help the economy."
"Romney's greatest asset"

Obama can rely on his own record: In his op-ed, Romney claims that Obama has done little to help the American economy in general, and Ohio's in particular, says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. But the truth is that Obama "passed a stimulus plan, fought for middle-class tax cuts," and "saved the auto industry." Ohio's jobless rate was 9 percent when Obama took office, and 7.5 percent now. That compares pretty well to the Republican record in the state: When Bush took office, Ohio's unemployment rate was 3.8 percent.
"Mitt Romney wants a pen pal"

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