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2012 campaign

How a Weak Economy Just Hurt Romney's Campaign

Customers shop at a Staples superstore in Springfield, Ill.

Photograph by Seth Perlman/AP Photo

Customers shop at a Staples superstore in Springfield, Ill.

Mitt Romney can’t seem to catch a break. For weeks, he’s been trying to overcome his gaffe about the “47 percent” and get back to talking about his career as a job-creating icon of capitalism. So it must be particularly frustrating for him that Staples (SPLS), which is Exhibit A in his claim to have created 100,000 jobs, just announced that it’s closing 15 stores in the U.S. (and another 45 stores in Europe) to save $250 million.

The crowning irony is that Staples is making these moves because of high unemployment from the recession. “The office supply business has been under pressure for really the past several years since the recession,” Joe Feldman, a New York-based analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, told Bloomberg News. “It’s reliant on economic growth and small business formation, and we’ve seen a lack of both.”

No kidding, Romney must be thinking to himself: That’s the whole basis of my campaign.

Green is senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGreen.

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