About three weeks ago, Mitt Romney appeared at a campaign event in Ohio, one of the nation's most important battlegrounds, alongside Gov. John Kasich (R). Some Otterbein University students, getting ready to graduate, reflected on the difficult job market, and the governor was quick to set their minds at ease.
Kasich noted a website his administration created, listing 80,000 job openings in Ohio, many of which are "exciting opportunities" for young workers, underscoring the state's growing economy.
You could almost hear Romney wince while Kasich was talking. The Republican presidential hopeful doesn't want Ohio voters talking about exciting opportunities and a growing economy; he wants Ohio voters feeling depressed and hopeless. The governor was stepping all over his ally's message.
This week, reporters in Ohio asked Kasich about the contradiction (video by way of our pal James Carter).
(Update: The video was originally published by Mark Kovac on his terrific Ohio Capital Blog. For more of Kasich's comments excerpted above, check out Mark's post from yesterday.)
Notice how the Republican governor still doesn't quite know how to deal with this. On the one hand, under President Obama, Ohio's economy is improving and its unemployment rate is dropping. Kasich doesn't want Obama to get credit -- he'd prefer to take the credit himself -- but he has a positive story to tell.
On the other hand, the governor also wants Ohioans to think Romney will rescue them from an economy that's improving. In the clip, Kasich is left saying, "I can't straighten all that out."
The problem is not limited to Ohio.
Many of the nation's key swing states -- Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania -- are led by Republican governors, each of whom are eager to tell their constituents that the economy is improving, jobs are being created, and there's reason for optimism.
At the same time, those same GOP governors are working to elect Romney, who is trying to tell their constituents that the economy isn't improving, jobs aren't being created, and there's reason for pessimism.