Just when it looked like the presidential race was dissolving into a back-and-forth over Ann Romney’s passion for dressage and President Obama’s college pot-smoking, Friday’s jobs report should swing the two camps’ attention back to the economy.
The numbers are ugly. The economy created a lower-than-expected 69,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent, reversing a nearly yearlong downward trend.
A perceived economic slowdown will force both campaigns to spotlight on jobs. The report is a bad sign for Obama, whose reelection hinges on the fragile recovery. The disappointing numbers feed the GOP’s narrative: that Obama’s policies have failed, that things are not getting better, and that the country needs a leader with business experience to get the economy moving again.
As top GOP officials seize today on the “pathetic” numbers and Mitt Romney’s newest ad promises he will get the U.S. “back on the right track,” voters have a new reason for listening more closely.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney: Jobs Report a ‘Harsh Indictment’ of Obama
[National Journal, 6/1/12] Mitt Romney used Friday morning’s dismal jobs report to deliver a sharp rebuke to the Obama administration’s handling of the economy, offering that “probably the most significant thing we can do in the short term is get a new president.”
Economy Is Slowing, Obama Can’t Help, At Least Before November
[National Journal, 6/1/12] National Journal’s Jim Tankersley writes that President Obama has long since abandoned major efforts to accelerate growth and job creation through government stimulus; now, there’s no way he could get them in time to dent the unemployment rate before November.
Romney Wins Over the Right by Confronting Obama
[BuzzFeed, 6/1/12] A look behind Romney’s confrontational, Rush Limbaugh-approved strategy: a bet that the base cares more about grit than policy, and doesn't want him to apologize for Donald Trump.
Vice Presidential Pick? Don't Look At Jeb Bush
[National Journal, 6/1/12] It's unlikely that anyone in the Capitol needs to be reminded why Jeb Bush isn't on anyone's list, long or short, to be Mitt Romney's running mate. But, while Bush was in D.C. testifying before a House Budget Committee on how the country can reinvigorate its economy, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-M.D., laid into him.
Obama’s Counterterrorism Actions Complicate Republican Strategy
[New York Times, 6/1/12] First there was the terror “Kill List,” now there’s news of a freshly revealed cyberwar against Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Michael Shear writes that Obama’s hawkish approach to America’s enemies is complicating the Republican strategy of portraying the president as a feckless, indecisive foreign-policy leader.
Joe Biden, the Last Human in Politics
[Washington Post, 5/31/12] Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson writes that, for all his faults, the vice president “seems to be the last genuine human being in American politics.” The reason? Empathy: His wife and daughter died in an auto accident in 1972.
Romney Makes Pitch to Areas on Upswing
[Politico, 6/1/12] Of the 22 general election stops Romney’s made so far, 14 have been in counties with lower unemployment rates than the nation as a whole—many of which are swing states like Iowa, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It’s unlikely the campaign is looking at local unemployment rates when deciding where to hold events, but the dichotomy is already causing hiccups on the trail as Romney tries to hit Obama over the gloomy economy.
Rubio’s Split Stance Frustrates Critics
[National Journal, 6/1/12] A conservative and a Latino, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio—also a potential running mate for Romney—is uniquely positioned to successfully bridge the troubled waters separating the GOP and Hispanic voters. But in discussing his position on the Dream Act, Rubio stepped into the crosshairs of the national debate on immigration.
Mitt’s Son Tagg Paid By Romney's Gubernatorial Campaign For A Year After Elections
[Huffington Post, 5/31/12] On the stump, Romney has been deriding "crony capitalism," but what about nepotism? A review of documents by HuffPo shows that Romney’s son Taggart collected a salary of more than $27,000 from his father’s campaign as well as the campaign of the newly elected lieutenant governor—well after their victory in 2002.
Nancy Reagan Endorses Romney [National Journal, 6/1/12] Former first lady Nancy Reagan endorsed Romney on Thursday night, saying her “Ronnie” would have liked Romney's business background. In a statement, Reagan praised Romney’s “leadership skills” and “strong principles,” and said she believes he has the experience that “our country so desperately needs.”
Romney to Submit Personal Finance Statement on Friday
[Reuters, 5/31/12] Romney is scheduled to deliver his latest personal financial disclosure statement to federal elections authorities on Friday. Forbes estimates that Romney’s current net worth is $230 million, split between nine different asset classes.
Is Pawlenty Showing Renewed Interest in the Vice Presidency?
[National Journal, 6/1/12] Less than a month after declaring he should be taken off the list of potential vice presidential picks, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty suggested on Friday that he might not say no to the No. 2 spot on a Romney ticket if the GOP nominee came calling.
Portman’s Bipartisan Reputation Could Hurt Veep Chances
[The Hill, 6/1/12] If the speculation that Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, will become Romney’s VP pick proves true, he could complicate the race in an unexpected way: He is not sufficiently polarized. Portman has a legitimate record of bipartisanship and is well-regarded even by Capitol Hill Democrats.
Campaign Energy Messages Differ; Policies Not So Much
[National Journal, 5/31/12] Whether the data is inflated or not, the message that voters may be getting from the candidates is that there really isn’t much difference between Obama's and Romney’s policies on energy. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney often sounded very much like Obama does today, but these days Romney is criticizing the president’s “all of the above” approach.
Swing State Economic Performance Favors Obama
[Politico, 5/31/12] Even if the president’s policies didn’t cause the improvement, it could help his case that the economic outlook in swing states like Ohio—where auto and steel workers are getting jobs again—has brightened under his stewardship.
Minnesota Could Test Obama’s Influence on Gay Marriage
[Associated Press, 5/31/12] Obama’s trip to Minneapolis on Friday is his first trip to a state that will definitely have a gay marriage ban on the November ballot since he came out in support of same-sex marriage. Opponents of the proposed ban are hoping the president’s enduring popularity in the state could help persuade skeptical Democrats to vote against the ban.
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