Mitt Romney hammers the president’s liberal statism. “By highlighting Obama’s transformative policies, Romney gives voters a way to make sense of Obama’s role in our economic woes. This is how the 2010 election was won. Yes, the economy was bad back in 2010, but that alone can’t explain the GOP’s sweeping off-year victory. If a bad economy by itself was enough to account for 2010, Romney would be ahead right now.”

The Obama administration screwed up and then lied, says the Wall Street Journal editorial board. “Imagine the uproar if, barely a month before Election Day, the Bush Administration had responded to a terrorist strike — on Sept. 11 no less — in this fashion. Obfuscating about what happened. Refusing to acknowledge that clear security warnings were apparently ignored. Then trying to shoot the messengers who bring these inconvenient truths to light in order to talk about anything but a stunning and deadly attack on U.S. sovereign territory. Four Americans lost their lives in Benghazi in a terrorist attack that evidence suggests should have been anticipated and might have been stopped. Rather than accept responsibility, the Administration has tried to stonewall and blame others.”

Jeffrey Goldberg nails it. Why didn’t President Obama come clean to admit that the riots were the result of Islamic extremism? “Because that would mean acknowledging that the killing of Osama bin Laden and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq didn’t bring to an end the unhappy U.S. entanglements in the Middle East. It would mean acknowledging that Obama hasn’t charmed radical Islam into submission, and that American counterterrorism policies, especially drone strikes, sometimes cause as many problems as they solve. It would mean acknowledging that the aftermath of the Arab Spring is messy and ambiguous, and that anti-American resentment in the Muslim world is often a byproduct of deeper dysfunctions of culture, religion and politics.” It would mean that Obama was a failure, in other words.

Romney drills down on Obama’s record: “You know, I know there are some people who want four more years, but we don’t want four more years like the last four years. This election, in my opinion, comes down to a very dramatic choice between two different courses for America. When it relates to the economy, the president’s course is status quo. His slogan is ‘Forward.’ I think ‘forewarned’ is a better term. I mean, I don’t know if you watched or read his speech at the Democrat convention, but he laid out a plan which was just like what he said four years ago: another stimulus, bigger government.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) plasters the ticket’s message in swing states with free media. “Over the last few days Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has found his way into the living rooms of voters in Cincinnati, Lima and Dayton, Ohio as well as Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach, Florida. . . . In fact, since Mitt Romney tapped the Wisconsin congressman to be his running mate on August 11, Ryan has sat for more than 150 television, radio and newspaper interviews with the vast majority of those taking place at the local and regional level.”

The old saw that the buck stops with the president is true. Obama’s excuses are false. Glenn Kessler gives the president four Pinocchios on the debt. “Obama certainly inherited an economic mess, and that accounts for a large part of the deficit. But Obama pushed for spending increases and tax cuts that also have contributed in important ways to the nation’s fiscal deterioration. He certainly could argue that these were necessary and important steps to take, but he can’t blithely suggest that 90 percent of the current deficit ‘is as a consequence’ of his predecessor’s policies — and not his own.”

The Obama wrecking ball is still pounding the economy. “Stocks fell for a third straight day, with energy and technology shares posting the steepest declines, as investors were spooked by euro zone instability and a slightly disappointing report on the U.S. housing market.”