On Thursday, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) "to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state's economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee's message that the nation is suffering under President Obama." In a recent television ad, Governor Scott has allegedly been boasting of “putting more Floridians to work.” Scott, a one-term governor who’s approval ratings have slipped from 41% to 39% since May, has been justifiably publicizing his jobs record in an attempt to save face in the notorious swing state. According to Mac Stipanovich, a political strategist and Floridian lobbyist, Romney would rather have “everybody singing from the same hymnal.”
Romney would have the economy suffer until November so that he can save it as president rather than thank the powers that be for job growth. How can we believe him when he says that he wants what is best for America? It seems to me as though he wants what is best for America—as long as he can be credited. It did not even matter to the Romney campaign that Scott is a Republican pursuing Republican policies. Romney’s whole campaign would go under if he could no longer say that this President is bad for America.
This interaction also highlights the fact that the Romney campaign can be boiled down to one thing: the economy. Never before in the history of the United States has a President been reelected if there was an economic downturn during his presidency. This is the statistic that the Romney campaign is banking on. This particular election provides an interesting twist to that would be unwritten rule, however. That is, while the economy did indeed get worse while Obama was in office, it is rather widely acknowledged that the downturn began before he had taken office and simply was not through running its course. It is entirely possible (and this is what the Obama campaign is trying to prove) that the economy would have been far worse had Obama not enacted the measures that he did.
We can never know. However, it can be hypothesized that whichever argument voters find more convincing, that Obama wrecked the economy or saved it from even worse devastation, will determine who runs this country for the next four years. While there is certainly no reason for President Obama to surf the wave of hope that he rode into the White House in 2008, the disenchantment with his campaign may not be enough to convince the average American citizen that extending the Bush tax cuts and cutting entitlement spending is what is going to save the economy. Romney can only say that Obama’s plans have not worked, not that his will.
The economy also never reacts immediately to government intervention. It may be years before we know if the stimulus was good or bad for American job creation. The only thing that Romney is offering America is bad numbers today. He does not say that he will fix them and he does not say what values he will bring to the presidency. His argument is that the numbers are bad now, so elect me president. I don’t think that is going to be good enough. We have no proof that Obama’s policies were bad, and even less that Romney’s will be better.
Oh, and there’s more to America than the economy.