The referendum vs. the choice

Updated

Mitt Romney and President Obama played the hits today at their back-to-back campaign speeches in Ohio. Romney framed the election as a referendum on the president’s performance, while Obama framed the election as a choice between two distinct ideologies. Their speeches highlighted the questions that will define the race to come: How do you feel? vs. How will we move forward?

Romney walked through what he says are Obama’s failed policies: the stimulus, the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, and his refusal to approve the Keystone Pipeline. “On day one,” Romney said, “we’re going to get the approval for that pipeline from Canada and if I have to build it myself to get it here, I’ll get that oil into America!” He went on to tackle the question of tax cuts for the wealthy with a short anecdote about Marco Rubio’s childhood:

“I saw Marco Rubio the other day. He spoke to a group of people and said something that struck me well. He said when he was a boy, he lived in a very modest home, and said there were some pretty fancy homes in the Miami area. He said, you know what? I never heard my parents say, Why won’t those people give us some of what they have? I never heard my parents say, Why won’t the government give us some of what they have?”

Obama, who spoke for nearly twice as long, explained in detail how he inherited an economic mess from the George W. Bush administration, and why Romney’s proposals are merely the same policies “on steroids.”

“The economic vision of Mr. Romney and his allies in Congress was tested just a few years ago. We tried this. Their policies did not grow the economy. They did not grow the middle class. They did not reduce our debt. Why would we think that they would work better this time?”

Both candidates doubled down on the arguments they’ve been making for weeks. In a key swing state such as Ohio, which holds a critical 18 electoral votes, the presidential race is going to come down to who can make their message stick in the minds of voters — either by eloquence, or unceasing repetition.

Ohio, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama

The referendum vs. the choice

Updated