In anticipation of the National Governors Association gathering this weekend, Politico went to the 20 Democratic governors still in office and asked them how they would change or tailor President Obama’s campaign message to better reach the voters in their states.
The governors said they wanted Obama to stress more of the positives of the things he has accomplished and also to hammer away at the obstructive Congress, rather than focusing so much on the economy—which they said seems to be having the effect of making the public think the economy is worse than it actually is.
Obama has been caught in recent weeks between a desire to appear as if he is entirely focused on improving the economy so that he can’t be accused by Romney of ignoring the nation’s economic straits and his wish to highlight the ways the economy has gotten better. This was illustrated by the trouble the president got in when he said the private sector was doing “fine,” which gave Romney an opening to portray him as out of touch.
Reports out of Florida claim that the Romney campaign actually called up Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott and told him to stop talking so much about how his state’s economy is improving—a claim that a governor clearly would be eager to make, regardless of his party affiliation—so that he won’t contradict the message Romney is trying to send to voters that things are really, really bad.
In the Politico story, there were five areas where the governors thought Obama needed to tweak his message: Talk more about the benefits of the $800 billion stimulus package he got through Congress early in his term; do more outreach to the small business community; talk more about his energy initiatives; focus more discussion on all the Obama administration’s creative education programs; blame Congress as much as possible.
“A lot of the innovation that we’re seeing in Vermont is the result of the stimulus package,” said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. “People recognize that we were down in the dumps, we were on our bellies, our economy was shrinking, and those public investments in infrastructure — roads, bridges and telecommunications and rail — have helped to save the little state of Vermont from a really desperate economic situation.”
“Cheapest energy in the world — this is the first time in generations that we can say that, and it’s the energy that matters for manufacturing, and that’s why we’re seeing positive growth for manufacturing,” Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said, pointing to the number of oil rigs currently drilling domestically. “A lot of those jobs that went to Asia or went to Latin America, they look at political uncertainty, they look at low productivity of the workforce, and they say the ol’ U.S. of A. looks better all the time.”
“I think the president should run on the Ryan budget,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said of the House GOP plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “I think the president should run on the fact that the Congress, unlike the Connecticut Legislature, could not pass a bipartisan jobs bill. I think the president should point out what a little boy at a parade once did: In that case, that the emperor had no clothes. In this case, that Congress—and I would point the finger at the Republicans—have no clothes. Or perhaps no decency.”