With four days to go until President Obama presents his vision for the future at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, three days after Mitt Romney had his turn in Tampa, the two campaigns headed to the battleground states to offer a preview of the next two months leading up to Nov. 6.
Two widely differing perspectives on the economy were presented, giving voters one of the starkest presidential election choices they have had in a long time. Perhaps that’s only appropriate in a country that has become more polarized than the nation has been in many generations.
For Romney, it was all about the President’s failure to create jobs—or at least enough jobs to insulate himself from attack—over the past four years.
“If you have a coach that’s zero and 23 million, you say it’s time to get a new coach,” Romney said in Cincinnati, repeating a theme he first tried out in Tampa, acknowledging the start of football season. “It’s time for America to see a winning season again, and we’re going to bring it to them.”
For Obama, trotting out a charge he has leveled at Romney and running mate Paul Ryan since Romney first emerged as the likely nominee, Romney’s ideas are no different than those of George W. Bush that got us into our current economic difficulty.
“Despite all the challenges that we face in this new century, what they offered over those three days was, more often than not, an agenda that was better suited for the last century,” Obama said in Urbandale, Iowa, on a sprawling 500-acre property that serves as a museum of farming history.
“It was a rerun. We’d seen it before. You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV,” Obama said.
The Charlotte convention begins on Tuesday and culminates with Obama’s speech on Thursday. Obama had his own scathing critique of last week’s GOP convention.
“There was a lot of talk about hard truths and bold choices, but nobody ever actually bothered to tell you what they were,” Obama said. “And when Gov. Romney had his chance to let you in on his secret, he did not offer a single new idea, just retreads of the same old policies that have been sticking it to the middle class for years.”
The campaign is narrowing mostly to the states that are considered still up for grabs—states such as Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania.
It will be interesting to see if the Democrats and President Obama score higher ratings than did the Republicans, who drew an estimated 30.3 million viewers over 11 networks on Thursday night for Romney’s speech—considerably lower than the more than 40 million over 7 networks that watched John McCain in 2008.