The July jobs report was a heavy dose of Nothing’s Changed, both for the U.S. economy and the presidential campaign.
Read the numbers thus: The economy is very slowly healing; the pace of recovery isn’t picking up; and, with a big caveat about Europe, we don’t seem to be headed back toward recession anytime soon.
It looks increasingly likely, three months from Election Day, that this is the economic picture that will stick in voters’ minds when they select their next president. It does not appear to be the sort of picture that will tip the election either to President Obama or his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. A late-summer surge in hiring might have given an edge to the incumbent. A return to recession would be lifting the challenger.
Instead, the race is a dead heat in most national polls. Weak growth and persistently high unemployment remain the fundamental reasons Obama could lose reelection. But the data suggest that the weakness, by itself, might not be enough to put Romney over the top.
The fundamentals at this point still favor Romney. But his campaign would be wise to spend some time this week watching Olympic boxing bouts on CNBC. Several times already, one fighter has appeared to television commentators to have won a clear victory — only for the judges to raise his opponent’s hand in the end. When you don’t knock the other guy out, that’s always the risk. Read more
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney: Economic Numbers a ‘Hammer Blow’ to Middle Class
[National Journal, 8/3/12] Mitt Romney called Friday’s unemployment report “another hammer blow to the middle class” as he slammed Obama for failing to improve the economic outlook in a speech that illustrated his desire to turn the conversation toward the economy.
Obama’s Magic Number: 316,000
[BuzzFeed, 8/3/12] One of the favored GOP talking points is that Obama has presided over a net loss in jobs over his first three-plus years as president. But if 316,001 jobs are created in the next three months, that loss would turn into a gain, and would give Obama something of a rhetorical victory.
GOP Flexes Muscle as Ad Spending Nears Half-Billion Mark
[National Journal, 8/3/12] Romney and outside groups that support him will spend more than twice as much as Obama’s campaign on TV advertising this week — but Obama is making down payments on the future, spending tens of millions on advertising that won’t run until the fall. Together, both campaigns have spent almost half a billion dollars thus far.
In Northern Ohio, Obama Ads Effectively Define Romney
[Los Angeles Times, 8/3/12] Interviews show that the TV ads Obama and his allies have aired on Cleveland stations for weeks have been well worth the money: The blistering indictment of Romney’s career at Bain Capital has come to define him among swing voters in one of the election’s key swing states.
In Tight Iowa Race, Romney Struggles to Excite GOP Base
[New York Times, 8/3/12] Romney faces a worrisome undercurrent in Iowa: The grass-roots elements who animated the Iowa caucuses — evangelical Christians, Rep. Ron Paul supporters, tea party members, and others — are not fully behind his candidacy in a battle that will be determined partly by who turns out the Republican base.
Boehner Spokesman Moves to Romney Camp's VP Staff
[The Hill, 8/3/12] The Romney campaign moved one step closer to its vice presidential announcement by hiring House Speaker John Boehner’s press secretary as a spokesman for the future running mate. Brendan Buck is joining a team that includes former RNC spokesman Kevin Sheridan and others.
Romney’s ‘Shove It’ Spokesman Takes Time Off Campaign Trail
[ABC News, 8/2/12] Romney spokesman Rick Gorka, the aide now infamous for telling a reporter to “kiss my ass” and “shove it,” is taking some time off the campaign trail. Absent from events on Thursday in Colorado, he is being spelled by other Romney spokespeople.
Al Austin: The Man Behind the GOP Convention
[Tampa Bay Times, 8/3/12] For the 83-year-old who has been one of Tampa’s most important builders and developers since the 1950s, the 2012 convention is the culmination of everything Al Austin has done — professionally and politically.
The Battle for Religious Voters
[Washington Post, 8/3/12] Distracted by Romney’s flubs on his foreign trip, the press was slow to grasp that the point of the tour wasn't to buff up the candidate’s foreign policy credentials, but to make an overt pitch to religious voters back home — which was actually pretty smart.
Romney’s Excellent Trip
[National Review, 8/2/12] Tired of the negative narrative about Romney’s overseas trip? Charles Krauthammer is here to tell you that despite the London Olympics gaffe, the Warsaw leg was a “triumph” and that Romney was simply telling the truth when it comes to Palestinian “culture.”
Obama’s Problems in the South
[Politico, 8/3/12] Four years after Obama’s election, the country he sought to bring together is even more divided than when he launched his candidacy. No place is more polarized than the South. Racism, redistricting, changes in the media, and the lagging economy have all contributed to the divide.
Enough With the Dressage Attacks!
[The Daily Beast, 8/3/12] Yes, the Romneys claimed a $77,000 write-off on their Olympian horse, Rafalca, but the Democrats — specifically MoveOn.org — are only making themselves look bad by attacking it, writes Michelle Cottle.
Porn Star Jenna Jameson Endorses Romney
[CBS San Francisco, 8/3/12] Romney gets the all-important faded porn star vote as Jenna Jameson announced her endorsement on Thursday night in San Francisco. Jameson, a Hillary Clinton backer in 2008, said, "When you're rich, you want a Republican in office."