An Obama campaign official said Wednesday that Mitt Romney‘s campaign is “rooting” for a worsening U.S. economy to lift his election prospects.
“They are putting all of their chips on worsening economic news,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to a large group of campaign reporters who had gathered just blocks from White House. “They are rooting for it. I think the Congressional leadership is rooting for it. That’s their entire bet. It’s not about Mitt Romney. It’s not about people rallying to his message or his cause. It’s about maybe things will get bad enough that they’ll throw the President out and stick Mitt in. That’s essentially their theory. I don’t think they are going to be rewarded for that at the end of the day.”
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, called the accusation “ridiculous” and pointed to the language that Romney has been using in his own stump speech. “I hope things are getting better,” Romney has said in recent weeks, before adding that any improvement will come “in spite” of the President and his policies. “The truth is, Gov. Romney has said repeatedly that we all want this economy to succeed but the only thing stopping it from doing so is President Obama’s failed policies,” said Saul.
What is not in dispute is the degree to which the worsening economic news of the last several weeks have become a central part of Republican campaign messaging. Just hours after the Obama campaign briefing ended, the Republican National Committee sent reporters a Wall Street Journal story that took note of the Federal Reserve‘s darkening economic forecast for the rest of the year. Earlier on Wednesday, a Romney Campaign email to reporters had noted recent stories that showed declining economic confidence, a Labor Department report that showed a decline in job openings posted in April, and a story in the New York Times about the large numbers of underemployed and underpaid workers. Glum economic statistics are often at the heart of Romney’s own campaign ads.
The briefing in Washington was attended by four Obama campaign officials, who gave an overview of where they saw the race presently and where they hoped to steer it in the coming months. The campaign officials generally painted a rosy picture of their current circumstances, with two exceptions: A huge amount of outside spending from Republican super PACs, which they expect to surpass $1 billion, and the prospect of a worsening economic climate. “I believe that the economy will be ultimately at a place where we can have the debate that we need to have,” the campaign official said.
Later in the briefing, a reporter asked the campaign official to clarify his claim that Romney was hoping for more economic pain. “Do you think the Republican candidate for the presidency is genuinely rooting for more people to be out of work between now and November?”
“I think he has predicated his candidacy [on that],” the official responded. “Let me ask a question: If that weren’t the case, why wouldn’t he be urging Congress to act on things that we know will have an immediate impact. Why would he allow his chief economics adviser to be publishing essays in German newspapers counseling the Germans not to take the American government’s counsel by trying to help solve the problems in Europe. I think the actions speak for themselves.”
The official pointed to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal that noted some Republican leaders in Congress “are finding new incentives to put off striking deals on major legislative issues,” given the worsening economy and the rising chance that Romney wins November’s election. “Why not wait for the reinforcements?” asked Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, in the story.