Obama vs. Romney: This Time It's Personal


In another sign of how personal the Obama campaign's message has become, the DNC's bandwidth on Monday was nearly all about Romney's finances and scant on the economy or policy. In emails to the press, the committee sent a handful of stories recounting Sunday's talking points on Romney -- including links to The Detroit News, The Boston Globe, Paul Krugman, and The Hill. During the day, the DNC organized a conference call for the press featuring Colorado Democrats to "highlight President Obama's efforts to protect middle class tax cuts" -- and "Romney's outsourcing record."

While Obama has scrutinized Romney's past, Romney has aimed his criticism not at Obama's background but rather the economy over the past three years. The Republican National Committee countered Obama's attacks on Romney with a graphic that shows the drop in the number of jobs added each month since January, along with quotes from news reports checking the accuracy of Obama's claims.

Romney's team raises its talking points on the economy whenever it can, and even though the candidate has been criticized for not being specific on economic policy, he hasn't gone after Obama in the style of Palin circa 2008, when Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright were central figures.

"Under this president, we've seen a record 41 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent," Billy Pitman, the RNC's communications director in Pennsylvania, wrote to the press. "So with no record to run on himself, President Obama is relying on misleading and false attacks on Governor Romney's private sector record."

"President Obama's failed policies have left the economy upside down from where it should be," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement that reads right off the GOP's script. "From Day One, Mitt Romney will implement bold, pro-growth policies that finally turn around the Obama economy."

In fact Romney's approach has been so economy-centric that he's even taken flak for that from conservatives, notably The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, which wrote last week: "The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault. We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that 'Obama isn't working.' Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better."

Most voters still say the number-one issue for them is related to the economy, which is a boon for Romney's campaign. Polls have shown, though, that after a barrage of pro-Obama ads attacking Romney over his time at Bain, support for Romney in swing states has slipped. Democrats hope that they can recreate that success by drawing attention to Romney's personal finances.

"If this becomes a question for the American people," Di Martino said, "it's a huge problem for Mitt Romney."

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