Ad War Update: Obama and Romney at Your Kitchen Table

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You know the presidential campaign is getting serious when both candidates stop stabbing each other with sharpened Pinnochio noses long enough to speak directly to you, the voter. “If I could sit down with you in your living room or around the kitchen table,” Obama says in a new direct-to-camera ad, “here’s what I’d say”:

During the last weeks of this campaign there will be debates, speeches and more ads. But if I could sit down with you in your living room or around the kitchen table here’s what I’d say:

When I took office we were losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month and were mired in Iraq. Today I believe that as a nation we are moving forward again. But we have much more to do to get folks back to work and make the middle class secure again.

Now, Governor Romney believes that with even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy and fewer regulations on Wall Street all of us will prosper. In other words he’d double down on the same trickle down policies that led to the crisis in the first place. So what’s my plan?

First, we create a million new manufacturing jobs and help businesses double their exports. Give tax breaks to companies that invest in America, not that ship jobs overseas.

Second, we cut our oil imports in half and produce more American-made energy, oil, clean-coal, natural gas, and new resources like wind, solar and bio-fuels—all while doubling the fuel efficiencies of cars and trucks.

Third, we insure that we maintain the best workforce in the world by preparing 100,000 additional math and science teachers. Training 2 million Americans with the job skills they need at our community colleges. Cutting the growth of tuition in half and expanding student aid so more Americans can afford it.

Fourth, a balanced plan to reduce our deficit by four trillion dollars over the next decade on top of the trillion in spending we’ve already cut, I’d ask the wealthy to pay a little more. And as we end the war in Afghanistan let’s apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation building right here at home.

It’s time for a new economic patriotism. Rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong, thriving middle class. Read my plan. Compare it to Governor Romney’s and decide for yourself. Thanks for listening.

This is mostly a distillation of all of Obama’s well-worn points about his first term: a reminder of how bad things were, a dash of Bush blame, some claims of modest gains and the promise of more to come. Romney’s latest is also a direct-to-camera spot, focused on the achingly slow recovery:

Too many Americans are struggling to find work in today’s economy. Too many of those who are working are living paycheck to paycheck, trying to make falling incomes meet rising prices for food and gas. More Americans are living in poverty than when President Obama took office and 15 million more are on food stamps. President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The difference is my policies will make things better for them. We shouldn’t measure compassion by how many people are on welfare. We should measure compassion by how many people are able to get off welfare and get a good paying job. My plan will create 12 million new jobs over the next four years—helping lift families out of poverty and strengthening the middle class. I’m Mitt Romney and I approve this message because we can’t afford another four years like the last four years.

We’ve addressed the 12 million jobs pledge before–it’s on the conservative end of what economists believe current policies will produce without any change, so it’s not really very bold–but the remarkable thing about this ad is how similar the set up is to Obama’s case in 2008. Compare:

Obama was basically running against Bush four years ago (and still is at times). Romney’s mostly just following the anti-incumbent script, with the addition of a line about “compassion”–his way of explaining his recent candid camera comments about the 47% of Americans who pay no federal income tax. Speaking of which, Obama is also out with this ad today, airing in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia:

Ouch! Back to your regularly scheduled programing.