Kasich, McDonnell offer talking points

August 28, 2012

Kasich, not surprisingly, bragged about the successes of Ohio’s economy. But on his own campaign visits to Ohio, Romney - also not surprisingly - talks about Ohio’s economic problems. As Kasich was describing how good things were in Ohio, you almost expected him to add: “And that is why Barack Obama will carry the great state Ohio!”

No, Kasich didn’t say that, but the Obama campaign couldn’t resist issuing a press release minutes after Kasich’s talk noting that the Ohio Governor’s description of “the improving economy in Ohio” was “a message at odds with how Mitt Romney talks down the economy.” It then provided a list of contrasting Romney and Kasich statements.

All of which pointed to a potential asset for Obama this fall: Most of the swing states have economies that are doing better than the nation’s economy as a whole.

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia took a rather effective stab at squaring this vicious circle for Republicans. He sought to claim that what economic success there is in the country has come courtesy of Republican Governors.

“In states with Republican governors,” he declared, “the average unemployment rate is a full point lower than in states with Democratic governors. Republican governors lead seven of the ten states with the lowest unemployment rates, and 12 of the 15 states ranked best for business. While the Obama administration borrows over $3 billion a day just to keep the lights on, Republican governors have closed $65 billion in budget shortfalls, without raising taxes.”

I can’t fact check all that right now and this may be a case of correlation being very different from causation. But as political rhetoric, it was pretty good.

Earlier in the speech, McDonnell offered a bit of family biography, leading inevitably to commentary on the power of the American Dream, the “dream that led my grandfather, a poor farm boy, to leave Ireland 100 years ago and come to Ellis Island to begin his journey of freedom.”

“My grandfather could have never guessed that his son would fight for this nation in World War II, his great granddaughter would lead a platoon in Iraq and his grandson would grow up a middle-class kid in Fairfax County, serve in the Army, and now hold the same job as Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. What an incredible country we call home.”

Of course McDonnell’s story bears some similarities to the one Obama tells about his immigrant father from Kenya, his grandparents in Kansas, and his own rise to another job that Thomas Jefferson held. Obama is part of the American dream, too. That’s not a chapter in the story being told here in Tampa. But it is no less a story about the American Dream story.

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
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