Can Romney Get Back to the Economy?

National Journal Staff
National Journal

Here’s what voters heard a lot of on Wednesday: Mitt Romney assailing President Obama -- critics would say prematurely and ineptly -- over his handling of protests in Egypt and a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Here’s what they didn’t hear much about: a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau showing that median family income declined last year by 1.7 percent. 

Two months before Election Day, guess which topic voters care more about?

What was and wasn’t discussed on Wednesday snaps into focus a recent and persistent problem for the Romney campaign. Despite a professed dedication to directing its fire solely on Obama’s economic management, the campaign of late has often strayed into unfriendly subject matter.

Republicans dismiss speculation that Romney’s wanderings off-subject are an admission that the GOP campaign, trailing Obama after the president’s post-convention bounce, now believes an economics-only argument is not enough to win the White House. Rather, they say, the campaign needs to sharpen Romney’s own economic vision and its critique of the president. To some, that means it’s time to get tough.

Though the Romney campaign has not ignored the news, it still hasn’t seized on the opportunity to press harder on the notion that Obama wasn’t the right man to turn around the economy. Now, Romney’s controversial decision to go full-throttle against Obama in the midst of violence and tragedy could make it harder for him to direct attention to the economy, even if he tries to pivot back. Read more

--Alex Roarty


Libya Attack Represents Challenge for Obama
[Washington Post, 9/12/12] The attacks on Tuesday in Libya offered a vivid reminder that despite more than a year of turbulence in the Middle East, violent extremists remain a potent force. This diplomatic crisis threatens to undermine the Obama administration’s long-term strategy in the Arab world.

Obama Faces Growing Foreign-Policy Crisis
[NBC News, 9/13/12] Putting aside the campaign and Romney’s response to the Libya attacks, there is a much bigger story going on: Obama is dealing with a full-fledged foreign-policy crisis just some 50 days before the election.

Analysis: Teetering at the Water’s Edge NEW!
[National Journal, 9/13/12] Romney couldn’t resist framing the attack in Libya within his narrative of Obama as a weak leader, pushing events overseas to the fore in a way that presidential challengers rarely do.

Analysis: Romney’s Dark Worldview NEW!
[National Journal, 9/13/12] In the homestretch of the campaign, Mitt Romney has offered enticing clues to his worldview, placing himself well to the right of Obama and firmly in the mold of the hawks and neoconservatives of the George W. Bush administration.

Romney Softens on Libya, Hardens Economic Critique NEW!
[National Journal, 9/13/12] In Virginia on Thursday, Romney attempted to shift the focus back to the issue he hopes will decide the election: the economy.


Romney: 'The World Needs American Leadership'
[RealClearPolitics, 9/13/12] At a rally in Virginia, Romney also told supporters, “The Middle East needs American leadership.” 

Romney Gets Bipartisan Scolding Over Criticism of Obama
[Bloomberg, 9/13/12] Romney’s response to the Libyan attacks sparked rebukes from Democrats and critical comments from members of his own party. Several top Republicans scolded the candidate for jumping the gun on a national crisis.

Attacks Expose Republican Rift
[Roll Call, 9/13/12] The response of Romney and other top Republicans to the attacks revealed a split between those in the party who wanted to take election-year shots and those more accustomed to projecting a sense of national unity in the wake of tragedy.

Obama Up 10 Points in Michigan, Poll Shows
[National Journal, 9/13/12] Obama has increased his lead over Romney in Michigan to 10 points, according to a new poll. Romney has tried to compete in the Great Lakes State, but the success of the auto bailout under the Obama administration and Romney’s initial position on it has hurt the Republican nominee.

Battleground Map: Nevada Leans to Obama 
[Los Angeles Times, 9/13/12] Based on polls and interviews with strategists in both parties, the Los Angeles Times has updated its battleground map to move Nevada and its six electoral votes from “tossup” to “lean Obama.”

Romney Moves to Put Wisconsin in Play
[Associated Press, 9/13/12] Just two months before Election Day, Wisconsin has emerged as the latest presidential battleground. Undeterred by the state’s historic Democratic bent, Romney began airing TV ads there this week, and both campaigns are dispatching their No. 2s to the state.

What If There Is a Wave?
[National Journal, 9/13/12] Few believe that a wave similar to that of former President Reagan and the Senate Republicans in 1980 is likely this year, but NJ’s Reid Wilson writes that a surprisingly large number of Senate races are close heading into the fall -- presenting opportunities for both sides.

Jay-Z and Beyonce to Host Obama at New York Fundraiser
[Rolling Stone, 9/13/12] Hip-hop’s first couple is offering Obama supporters who can’t afford the minimum $40,000 donation the chance to enter a raffle to join in at the 40/40 Club next Tuesday.

Challenges to Voting Laws May Play Havoc on and After Election Day
[Roll Call, 9/13/12] Like other lawsuits across the country, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania hearing today on a strict new voter-identification law pits Republicans concerned about voter fraud against Democrats worried about voter suppression. The outcome could affect turnout on Election Day and spawn legal challenges afterward.

Attend a National Journal LIVE event
 | Sign up for National Journal newsletters