Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has had six years to come up with an explanation for his poor job-creation record in Massachusetts. Amazingly, Team Romney still doesn’t know what to say.
President Obama’s campaign has raised a straightforward and accurate point: during Romney’s one term as governor, his state ranked 47th in job creation. Romney had a chance to put his private-sector expertise to work in Massachusetts, but the experiment failed.
Last night, Kerry Healey, who served as Romney’s lieutenant governor, talked to CNN’s John King about this, and as Greg Sargent noted, her argument took the Romney campaign’s “double standard” problem to a whole new level.
As Healey sees it, the Obama campaign is being unfair by evaluating Romney’s job-creation record “with one number,” which obscures “a progression” in which Massachusetts’ jobs picture improved over four years. She added:
“Do you embrace this notion of averaging? Should we average the four years? Does that make any sense? Does that tell the voters anything? What the voters want to know is, what direction are you moving?
“Using one number, this odd average of four years, to come up with 47th in the nation, doesn’t really show what happened.”
The lack of self-awareness is hard to believe. It’s almost as if the Romney campaign and its surrogates haven’t paid any attention at all to their own attacks.
In case this isn’t obvious, let’s spell it out as simply as we can.
* Summarizing a jobs record using one overall figure: The Romney campaign says it’s fair to do this with Obama’s jobs record, but unfair to do the same thing with Romney’s jobs record.
* Inheriting a weak economy: The Romney campaign says this shouldn’t be taken into consideration when critiquing Obama, but must be taken into consideration when evaluating Romney.
* Including the first year in office:The Romney campaign said Obama’s first year counts when looking at his jobs record, but also says Romney’s first year doesn’t count when looking at his jobs record.
* Progress: The Romney campaign says it’s irrelevant that job creation improved at the national level on Obama’s watch, but it’s critically important that job creation improved at the state level on Romney’s watch.
Ideally, the Romney campaign’s standards would be seen as so brazen, they’d start to influence the way in which the political world perceives all of the Republican’s arguments. The next time Romney attacks Obama on unemployment, poverty rates, economic growth, or any related metric, observers should stop to think, “But if we’re playing by Romney campaign rules, would this criticism hold up?”