One thing that’s getting a bit lost in the noise: Mitt Romney, after some hemming and hawing, firmly came out for the anti-union law that went down to resounding defeat last night in Ohio. How much of a role will that play in the battle for Ohio, should Romney become the GOP nominee?
The Obama campaign is now seizing on Romney’s embrace of Governor John Kasich’s law rolling back bargaining rights, and Ohioans’ landslide rejection of it yesterday, to underscore an emerging theme: Republicans don’t care about the “economic security of the middle class.” We’ll be hearing a lot of that phrase.
“Middle class families are not going to stand for ideological overreach by Republicans when their economic security is on the line,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an interview.
“After contorting himself into a pretzel, Mitt Romney supported this policy 110 percent,” LaBolt continued. “It further exemplifies that his policies would not only fail to restore economic security for the middle clas, but would actually take away their seat at the negotiating table when their livelihoods are on the line.”
That’s perhaps the strongest statement yet from the campaign against conservative efforts to roll back the bargaining rights of public employees. La Bolt added: “Any chatter that our supporters aren’t mobilized and energized ends today.”
I’ve asked a Romney spokesperson for a response, and will update when I hear back.
It’s hard to gauge what kind of significance yesterday’s results will have for the presidential election a year from now. The referendum turned heavily on the fact that cops and firefighters were in the crosshairs, and the turnout will be higher and different next year.
But the fact Romney came to Ohio and equivocated about Kasich’s law in a way that created a media circus for days — and then fully embraced it — suggests that yesterday’s results could be a more prominent problem for him than they might be for any other GOP candidate. The Obama campaign seems to see these results as a clear sign of which way public sentiment is heading — and as potentially a major factor in a swing state that has historically decided presidential elections.
UPDATE: Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul responds:
“The very last thing the Democrats want to do is run against Mitt Romney. That is why they are focused on Mitt Romney and not the economy. The Democrats are continuing their campaign of deception in their strategy to ‘kill Romney.’ President Obama’s campaign is going to be very interesting to watch, but it’s not going to work.”