Republican challenger Mitt Romney, without providing further details of his own plans, used what his campaign billed as a major economic speech to denounce President Barack Obama’s policies and leadership.
In a speech in the battleground state of Iowa, Romney said the president “doesn’t have any prospect of meeting the challenges of the times.” He also again pledged to begin balancing the federal budget, create 12 million jobs over four years and quicken the pace of U.S. economic growth to 4 percent annually.
Adopting the theme that helped Obama win the presidency in 2008, Romney said he and running mate Paul Ryan represent “real change, change that offers promise, promise that the future will be better than the past.”
With Hurricane Sandy headed up the Atlantic coast, Obama was campaigning today to a rally in Nashua, New Hampshire, one of the nine states where both campaigns say the election will be decided. The nine states account for 110 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.
“New Hampshire is going to be very important. We don’t know how this thing is going to play out,” he said today. “These four electoral votes right here could make all the difference.”
White House aides stressed that preparing the country for flood, intense wind storms, and potential power outages remained the president’s top concern. The president convened a conference call with top weather and security officials from Air Force One, as he traveled to the rally.
“We’re taking this day by day just like the administration is and just like state and local authorities are,” campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
Romney is campaigning in the swing state of Florida, where he told a rally in Pensacola today that Obama “is shrinking from the magnitude of the times,” falling short on promises to cut the deficit, protect Medicare and reduce unemployment.
The threat of “Frankenstorm,” a nickname assigned by the National Weather Service, is already affecting the campaign schedule along the East Coast. Romney’s campaign cited the storm in canceling a weekend campaign event in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The campaign is evaluating whether to go ahead with two other Virginia events.
If the storm hits Washington early next week, it could also affect the president’s travel plans.
Romney’s Iowa speech yesterday came hours after the U.S. Commerce Department said gross domestic product rose at a 2 percent annual rate in the third quarter after climbing 1.3 percent in the prior three months. The median forecast of 86 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 1.8 percent gain.
Romney called the figures disappointing, and said Obama’s “misguided” policies “slowed the recovery” from the recession the Democrat inherited when he took office. Romney recited his five-point economic plan without offering new specifics.
The GDP report is one of two to be released by the government before voters go to the polls on Nov. 6 in a presidential race in which the economy is the dominant issue. On Nov. 2, four days before Election Day, the Labor Department will issue unemployment data for October.
Payrolls rose 114,000 in September after climbing 142,000 in August, while the unemployment rate dropped to a three-year low of 7.8 percent, the first time it has been under 8 percent in 43 months.
Obama said on Oct. 25 that it was Romney who was proposing solutions -- such as lower tax rates for all Americans, including the wealthiest -- that have failed.
“We just tried that philosophy in the decade before I took office,” Obama said in Cleveland. “And we know what happened. It didn’t work.”
In Ohio, a pivotal state with a history of supporting winning presidential candidates, a CNN/ORC poll of its likely voters released yesterday shows Obama ahead. The president was backed by 50 percent and Romney by 46 percent in the Oct. 23-25 survey of 741 likely voters. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Taxing the Wealthiest
Romney said yesterday in Iowa that it’s Obama’s push to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and his attempts to jump start the economy that haven’t succeeded.
“This is not the time to double down on trickle-down government policies that have failed us,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “It’s time for new, bold changes that measure up to the moment and can bring America’s families the certainty that the future will be better than the past.”
Obama has had a series of positive economic reports in recent weeks to point to as he argues that his policies are helping to accelerate the recovery from the worst recession in more than seven decades.
Retail sales in September and August had the best back-to- back showing since late 2010. Cars and light trucks sold at a 14.9 million annual pace in September, the strongest since March 2008, according to Ward’s Automotive Group, as Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. (GM), which were bailed out under Obama, reported gains.
Another area of improvement is the housing market as record-low mortgage rates stoke demand.
When Obama took office, gross domestic product was shrinking at an annual rate of 8.9 percent and unemployment was at 7.3 percent. The jobless rate peaked at 10 percent in October 2009. While it fell to 7.8 percent last month, the slow climb out of the recession has increased the number of discouraged workers by 17.1 percent.
Gross federal debt has increased 45.5 percent to $16.2 trillion.
Still, consumer confidence has risen from 37.4 at the time of Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 to 70.3 last month, indicating increasing optimism. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) has jumped 64.8 percent and household net worth has climbed 22.4 percent.
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