The Wall Street Journal has just posted a terrific story on the increasing tensions between the Romney campaign, which is playing up bad economic news on a daily basis in every conceivable forum, and Republican governors, who prefer to emphasize that things are improving in their states.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of news in the piece is this bit from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who openly calls on Romney to stop hyping the bad economic news in his state:
When Mr. Romney traveled to Iowa last month, his campaign released a Web ad highlighting Iowans who were struggling to find work — in a state with a 5.1 percent jobless rate, the seventh lowest in the U.S.
“My state is seeing significant growth,” Mr. Branstad said in an interview, adding that he didn’t see why the Romney campaign decided to highlight unemployed Iowa residents. Ticking off a long list of companies that are expanding in the state, including Alcoa and John Deere, he said, “We are doing very well.”
Ahead of Mr. Romney’s Iowa campaign stop in Des Moines last month, Mr. Branstad said, he suggested that Mr. Romney put aside his jobs message and focus on the perils of mounting U.S. debt. “Debt is the number one issue that people in Iowa want to talk about,” he said.
Mr. Branstad wants the Romney campaign to focus more on what he and other GOP governors have done to cut taxes, trim state budgets and regulations, and, in some cases, to challenge labor unions.
As Steve Benen has noted , we’ve seen evidence of this tension before. Ohio governor John Kasich, for instance, recently allowed that we’ve “made a lot of progress,” adding that he didn’t mind if Obama got credit for that. Florida governor Rick Scott has also talked up our progress. But this from Branstad may be the first time that a GOP governor who has endorsed Romney has explicitly called on him to stop playing up bad economic news.
There’s little doubt that Romney’s jobs message will likely resonate nationally, where unemployment is unacceptably high and the recovery continues to sputter. But the tension between GOP governors in the battlegrounds, who want to highlight the recovery in their states, and the Romney campaign, whose fortunes depend on casting economic news in the worst possible light, will be a tricky one to navigate.