The 2012 Democratic National Convention kicks off this Tuesday from Charlotte, North Carolina, with the incumbent party scrambling to make the case for another four more years in the Oval Office, amid an electorate frustrated at the president's slow economic recovery but not ready yet to trust a Republican challenger perceived as an out of touch millionaire. However, this could change this Friday when the monthly job numbers are set to come out.
While the Republicans had hurricane Isaac looming threateningly over their National Convention, Obama and the Democrats will have the prospect of the August job figures hovering over their Charlotte gathering as speakers First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Keynote Speaker San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro -- among others -- make the case against what they describe as the Republican's failed policies of the past.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney is understandably salivating over the prospect of pounding Obama for yet another disappointing jobs report as the president tries to capitalize on his convention's message of "sticking with him," and the honest -- yet worn out -- argument that he inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Regardless of Friday's number, the jobs report will immediately turn the focus away from the "forward-looking" message Obama will deliver in Charlotte, as the successes that the president rightfully will highlight at the DNC -- health care, reproductive and gay rights, foreign policy and immigration -- will be outshined by the sobering economic indicators that month after a month have been chipping away at the president's job performance -- leaving him locked, as a result, in a tight battle against a Republican challenger without a clear economic plan for how to turn the economy around.
Obama is expected to address the job figures at the start of a three-day trip campaign during which spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the president will focus on explaining the difference between his plan and Romney’s. “We have long said we want the economic recovery to move faster, and the president has laid out steps to make that happen, but without a plan for the middle class and a sole focus on extending tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, the Romney-Ryan ticket doesn’t have a lot to offer working families regardless of the jobs numbers,” Psaki said.
Conversely, expect Romney, who has consistently polled higher than the president in what voters think would be his handling of the economy, to further indict Obama with accusations of supposed attacks on the private enterprise and small businesses as evidence that voters need to change the occupant of the White House come November.
The July jobs figures, which were better than expected as they added 163,000 private sector jobs, offer a hint of how Mitt Romney will react on Friday. Since the unemployment rate ticked up from 8.2% to 8.3%, the former governor of Massachusetts and CEO of Bain Capital, blasted the report as “another hammer blow to the struggling middle-class families of America.”
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said the campaign will use the jobs numbers to remind voters of Obama’s economic record, including the August 2011 jobs report, which counted zero new jobs. “Barack Obama is the first president in modern history to preside over a net job loss, and we intend to highlight the failure of his economic policies during and after the convention,” Williams said.
Expectations are the August numbers won’t be much different than July’s, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. He predicted BLS will report August job growth was around 150,000 jobs. Whether the unemployment rate will tick up or down is yet to be seen.