NEW YORK -- There has always been friction between Mitt Romney and certain Republican governors over how best to frame the state of the economy. While the presumptive GOP nominee has argued during his campaign that the recovery is far too slow, the electoral implications for making that case in states that include Virginia, Ohio and Michigan are much more complicated.
Republican governors Bob McDonnell of Virginia, John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Snyder of Michigan all must show that they are leading their states' economies in the right direction. Occasionally, that means discussing the economy in rosy terms, putting them at odds with the Romney campaign.
Bloomberg News dug a bit deeper than usual On Wednesday night into how much friction this has caused, reporting that the Romney campaign has asked Florida Gov. Rick Scott to tone "down his statements heralding improvements in the state’s economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee’s message."
The story is well reported, going so far as to quote a Republican operative as saying that the ads being run by the Florida GOP seemed like they were crafted at President Barack Obama's re-election campaign headquarters.
The state Republican party ran a television ad in March crediting Scott, who is a year and a half into a four-year term, for drops in the unemployment rate.
'Companies are hiring, expanding, putting more Floridians to work,' the ad narrator said. 'Florida’s unemployment rate continues to get better.'
Florida’s jobless rate was 11.1 percent in December 2010 before Scott took office and 8.2 percent two years earlier when Obama was sworn in.
'The first time I saw that ad I initially thought it was an Obama ad,' said Brad Coker, managing director of the Washington-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. 'They’ll have to tamp it down.'
The Romney campaign is quoted in the piece as arguing that the former governor routinely praises Scott and others for overcoming " the job-stifling policies of the Obama administration.” But, not surprisingly, the Obama campaign wasn't willing to grant them a pass. Obama's campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt emailed the following statement:
Whether it's touting the auto recovery, the resurgence of manufacturing, or the growth of our exports, Republican governors across the country have recognized what Mitt Romney refuses to: that we've made progress since the economic crisis. Not only does Mitt Romney deny that progress -- he rejects the policies that led to it and would instead return to the policies that caused the crisis in the first place.
It's worth noting that among state economies, Florida's is doing relatively poorly. It's also worth noting that this campaign theme was played out in the 2004 election as well, with John Kerry arguing that George W. Bush had not shepherded a struggling economy in an overwhelming positive direction. The Bush team responded by essentially accusing Kerry of being a sourpuss.