The cover of the Des Moines Register said it all.
A little over a week ago, the Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in the battleground state of Iowa, presented a bold comparison on its front page. Battling headlines read: “Obama Sharpens Criticism” and “Romney Expresses Optimism.” Three days later, the Register endorsed Mitt Romney for President, the first Republican endorsement made by the paper since Richard Nixon’s campaign in 1972.
The parallel the paper drew on that front page, and the point made in its endorsement, was one that Republicans have known since the convention if not earlier: Mitt Romney looks forward to America’s best days, that our economy can and will recover stronger than ever, and that President Obama’s policies have stagnated the economy more than any president in history.
Notice that all of these qualities concerned the economy.
The Obama campaign still panders to voters using social issues. Commercials still run on radio and television that promote Obama as the champion of women’s issues, social reform, the welfare state, and abortion rights. At some point in the future, perhaps these issues will come to a head, and perhaps President Obama’s views will come out victorious. But at this point in history, these views are simply not on point.
In a Gallup poll released last week, Americans saw the economy as the single most important issue by a nearly a 30 percent margin. Americans are paying attention to the economy, and this election will generally be decided on economic issues. So as a voter, one has to wonder why we are talking about social issues at all.
America is in the middle of the worst economic situation since the Great Depression. Inflation and unemployment are high. Interest is low. The stagflation of the 1970s appears to be more of a goal than a tragedy. Yet we have two monumentally different plans for the economy. Romney’s plan calls for lowering taxes, cutting spending, and allowing business to grow. The President wants more stimulus, more spending, and more regulation. The former plan knows that America is getting better and that America will again lead the world in the economic battleground. The latter assumes our best days are long gone. It is a simple battle between Romney’s optimism for America and Obama’s criticism for the way things should be.
Once upon a time, another president, a Democrat, did what Romney is proposing. He focused on the economy at a time when the economy had fallen into recession in the early 1990s. He campaigned on a slogan of “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Today, we sit in a similar boat. In the 1990s, our boat was floating; today, our boat is nearly sunk. Today, a businessman known for rescuing dying companies is running for president. Today, we need immediate and monumental change to right our ship. Today, we need Mitt Romney.
It’s a simple request, and one that should be realized next week. America needs a real recovery, a reinstated perpetual growth cycle, a return to exceptionalism. And the solution is simple.
It’s the economy, stupid.