Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, boasts of a 25-year career in the private sector — he calls it “the real economy” — helping restructure businesses. Perry highlights his decade as governor, in particular the past two years, in which Texas has accounted for at least one-third of the jobs created in the United States.
Romney’s view of the economy is shaped by his time as a management consultant and venture capitalist. Perry’s frame of reference is his family’s cotton farm and his state’s oil and gas boom.
As Romney and Perry campaigned Wednesday in New Hampshire, the question before Republican voters was this: Which credential is a better match for the moment — growing a business yourself or shaping an environment in which businesses can grow?
Some experts said that both experiences are valuable but that neither is a perfect fit. What matters more, they said, is whether the candidates have sound proposals to deal with the country’s big problems.
“Both private- and public-sector experience are helpful, but that’s the wrong debate,” said Allan B. Hubbard, a former director of the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush. “They’re both going to have very different hands if they’re elected in 2012. We all know what the hand is. What would they do? That’s what they need to be talking about.”
So far, they’re not. Despite both candidates’ focus on the economy, neither has offered more than standard Republican positions.
For months, Romney has said he will create jobs by lowering taxes, easing regulations and drawing on his private-sector experience. But he has offered no details on what taxes, what regulations or what experience would lead to job growth.
“Our regulation, our bureaucracy, our tax rates are so much higher than other countries,” Romney said Wednesday as he toured a steel plant in Berlin, N.H. “The right answer for America is to get government smaller.”
The launch of Perry’s campaign has been nothing if not candid — he has been brash about criticizing President Obama and the Federal Reserve, among other targets — but he has avoided saying much of anything specific about how he would manage the nation’s teetering economy.
“My actions as governor are helping create jobs in this country,” Perry said Wednesday in New Hampshire, where he attended the storied Politics and Eggs forum and a roundtable of business leaders. “The president’s actions are killing jobs in this country. It’s time to get America working again.”
Of that last line, Perry added, “People will hear me say this over and over.”