President Barack Obama's campaign team hoped that by now, the lethargic U.S. economy would be perking up as it had for President Ronald Reagan in the summer of 1984, setting the stage for Reagan's re-election rout.
But it is not to be.
New government figures show economic growth is slowing, not picking up speed — meaning Obama will continue to face economic headwinds.
The economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.5 percent from April through June, down from 2.0 percent the previous three months. While that showed it was still growing, if slowly, and not tottering back into recession, there was scarce other good news in the report for Obama — and plenty of ammunition for Republicans.
They piled on at once.
"It's a picture of a decelerating economy," said Glen Hubbard, economic adviser to GOP challenger Mitt Romney. House Speaker John Boehner saw "a troubling sign for the future of our economy."
"Clearly there's a lot more work that has to be done," acknowledged White House economist Alan Krueger.
Both sides know the statistics: Growth below 2 percent won't lower an unemployment rate now hanging at 8.2 percent, and no president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has been re-elected with the jobless rate over 8 percent.
Romney held more meetings in London on Friday and was attending opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. "It looks to me like London is ready," he proclaimed on NBC's "Today" as he sought to defuse a flap over his earlier comments questioning the city's preparations.
He goes next to Israel, an ally he accuses Obama of offending.
In what was hardly a coincidence, Obama on Friday released an additional $70 million for Israel as — with some fanfare — he signed a bill expanding US-Israeli ties. Later, he had fundraisers in town and in suburban Virginia.
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