Dueling Ohio Speeches: A Preview of the Race to Come

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Today’s dueling speeches in my home state of Ohio were a terrific glimpse into the Presidential race to come (full disclosure, I’m working for Governor Romney’s campaign). Not only will the (THE) swing state of Ohio see plenty more visits by the candidates and their top surrogates but both the President and Governor Romney delivered strikingly different messages that voters will continue to hear.

There’s no question the election will be about the economy, and both sides recognize that. The President will continue to blame his predecessor for the state of the economy and argue that, given another term, his policies will prove to be effective.

Romney will remind people that, while the President surely inherited a mess, he hasn’t done much to fix it.

But the more interesting debate won’t dwell on the past but will be about the two drastically different worldviews on how to improve the economy moving forward, and today both candidates embraced their views. The President believes the key is to grow government while Romney wants to invest in the private sector. I don’t think either candidate would disagree with that assessment.

Today Obama doubled down on his message that bigger government is the answer. Roll Call reporter (and former Los Angeles Daily News Sacramento bureau reporter) David Drucker tweeted during the speech that the President “is running for re-election as a liberal Democrat” and was “offering another full-throated defense of government spending. It’s straightforward & honest.”

That’s the thing—it is completely straightforward and honest. When Obama last week said the private sector was “doing fine,” his quick clarification of the remark was more telling than the remark itself. He said what he meant was that we need focus investment (your tax dollars) in government jobs, not in helping the private sector create jobs.

The problem is, after investing mightily in giant government programs like his health care overhaul and the stimulus, the nation’s economy has not improved. The President said his programs would reduce unemployment to 6 percent, but it has been over 8 percent for 40 straight months with 23 million people out of work. He said he’d cut the deficit in half but it’s about the same as what he inherited.

That’s why it was so odd to hear him talk about why growing government was the solution, yet he didn’t mention the two biggest examples of public sector investment under his watch.

And that’s the problem for the President. His view that we should grow government to improve the economy is totally valid, many smart people on the left agree with him. But that’s exactly what he has been doing, and it hasn’t worked.

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