Romney Bets on Bad Economy

Dan Balz titles today's column "Romney bets his candidacy on the economy." My reaction upon seeing that was, that's a pretty safe bet.

Dan Balz titles today’s column “Romney bets his candidacy on the economy.” My reaction upon seeing that was, that’s a pretty safe bet.

Republican Mitt Romney will formally launch his second campaign for the White House on Thursday with an operation leaner and wiser than it was four years ago and a message singularly focused on what he sees as President Obama’s greatest area of vulnerability: jobs and the economy.

Romney and his advisers are working backward from November 2012. They believe that the economy will decide the outcome of the election and that the president has yet to convince voters that his economic policies have worked. They argue that Romney’s long experience in the private sector — his tenure as an elected official was just four years — makes him the Republican best positioned to challenge the president on how to fix what’s wrong.

“This election is going to be a referendum on President Obama and his handling of the economy,” said campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. “He didn’t cause the economic recession, but his policies have prolonged it and deepened it in some respects. We wondered what it would be like to elect a president who has no experience. Now we know.”

Whether Romney can take the Republican nomination or persuade voters that he’d be better than President Obama on the economy remain the be seen over the next eighteen months. But if the economy comes roaring back, Obama’s a shoe-in for re-election. So, any would-be challenger betting on something other than the economy is a fool.

Democrats dispute all that and say Romney’s vulnerabilities on economic issues are far greater than the president’s. “The president made the hard choices, exercised sound judgment, and his policies are helping American industry give people jobs again,” said Democratic National Committee press secretary Hari Sevugan. “Mitt Romney made no choices, exercised bad judgment and has a record of helping big business take jobs away.”

Still, the president’s team has already shown it takes Romney’s candidacy seriously. The first video ad aired by a newly formed independent group that is run by two former White House officials targeted Romney.

It doesn’t work that way. Obama inherited a bad economy and likely did pretty much what anyone else in his position would have done given the options and pressures. But the voters will judge him on results and care very little about criticisms of Romney’s alternative plans that weren’t tried.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Chad S says:

    Romney better hope that there’s not some disasters of deals..or deals that led to massive layoffs in his past with Bain Capital. Its not enough to just complain about the economy. You have to have a coherent plan and the cred. If Romney’s plan is some variation of the tax cut fairy, then this will almost certainly fizzle out.

  2. anjin-san says:

    And here we see the Republican plan for America in the next 2 years. Pray for bad news.

  3. Tano says:

    Not just pray. Do whatever you can to grease the skids…
    Default anyone?

  4. michael reynolds says:

    It doesn’t work that way. Obama inherited a bad economy and likely did pretty much what anyone else in his position would have done given the options and pressures. But the voters will judge him on results and care very little about criticisms of Romney’s alternative plans that weren’t tried.

    I think that’s right. Even granting as I certainly do that Obama was handed a sh!t sandwich and asked to turn it into a steak dinner, after 4 years you can’t shift all the blame.

    If unemployment has dropped another point or two by election day Obama will probably cruise. If it doesn’t, or if we get a double dip then he’s gonna have some ‘splainin to do.

    What Obama can do is press Romney for specifics. Romney won’t have any, he’ll have platitudes and no doubt cuts in corporate tax rates.

    Romney’s not likely to make any major gaffes — he’s played this game before. I don’t think he has any major skeletons. His greatest weakness is that he doesn’t connect emotionally. He’s nobody’s dream of the future, and he can’t do much to change that: he is what he is. He’s going to need to make a plausible case for a specific march to prosperity and the problem he runs into there is that if he starts in with corporate tax cuts (and what else has he got?) he’s going to seem unserious. He cannot afford to seem unserious.

    The big question is how much Romney gets beat up in the nomination process. If Perry gets in he will paint Romney as an out of touch eastern RINO, just slightly effeminate, weak.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    Another sign of a repeat of ’64, perhaps? Romney can be the new Nelson Rockefeller…

  6. Maureen McAllister says:

    Obama has really done nothing!! People well DEMS like to forget that they had the house and the senate for this HOUSING MESS!..Barney Frank!! Frannie and Freddie!! .MY GOD ,Housing is still going down, forclosures are not stopping because there are no JOBS!.. Well no good paying JOBS!.. Unemployment first time filers in the 400,000 .. And in November when the extension ends that’s when the uneployment # will drop because there just not counted anymore.. pretty soon its going to be mathematically impossible for the economy to coming roaring back!!! ..All Obama likes to do is campaign, do talk shows, and take credit for things he had no part of!! .. I guarantee when ousted from office, he is the first president to get his own talk show on MSNBC..

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Does it concern anyone here at OTB that all the Republican commenters are either stupid or crazy?

  8. john personna says:

    I think that after 4 years of recession most voters know that it’s bigger than a President.

    I mean remember those OTB posts of yore, about how Obama shouldn’t “talk down the economy?” That was a different “then,” when people didn’t get the scale of wealth destruction in the housing and credit crash.

    Roughly, a $4 trillion stimulus didn’t fill a $20 trillion hole.

    Part one of that:

    Including all the stimulus spending, tax cuts, bank bailouts and automatic stabilizers, the Great Recession will add about $4.2 trillion to the federal deficit by the time the economy has fully recovered in 2016, based on back-of-the envelope calculations using figures from the Congressional Budget Office and the congressional Joint Tax Committee.

    Part two of that:

    Wealth destruction probably doesn’t adequately capture what happened in the early stages of the crisis. Wealth was vaporized at a breathtaking, eye-popping speed. American families lost a total of $19.4 trillion (in 2010 dollars) in household wealth from June 2007 to March 2009, when the stimulus started to take hold. First it was the housing market, and then it was the housing and the stock market together that tanked. American families lost $6.4 trillion in home value during this period.

    Pretty simple math, really. Politics aside.

  9. john personna says:

    (I’ve accused tax-cut conservatives of being cargo cultists. You know, build a bamboo airplane in the jungle and the cargo will come back. Or, cut taxes and that $20 will come back.

    They don’t really have a solid grounding for that faith. It is just a bamboo wing and a prayer.)