By Robert Schlesinger |
Attacking former Gov. Mitt Romney's Bain experience is not a winning issue for President Obama. In fact, the latest Rasmussen poll shows that President Obama should avoid targeting Governor Romney's business experience. In a sample of 1,000 likely voters, 44 percent believe that Romney's business record is a reason to vote for him, while only 33 percent say that his record at Bain is a reason to vote against him.
Therefore, Governor Romney's business career is a positive indicator for voters and juxtaposes with Obama's big-government, nanny state policies.
Even among key Democratic constituencies, the majority of likely voters who were polled believe that private businesses are better at creating jobs than government. According to the poll, 51 percent of women favor venture capital over government programs in creating jobs while only 26 percent favor government programs over venture capital. Younger voters also favor venture capital over government programs nearly 2 to 1 (48 percent to 27 percent).
President Obama's assault on the free-enterprise market and venture capitalists is anti-American and shows his greatest insecurity: his lack of private sector experience and his inability to understand the economy and help businesses thrive in these uncertain economic times. He believes that greater government spending and more government programs create jobs, which is not what most American voters believe. He is also skeptical about free markets, which demonstrates his lack of knowledge of how American businesses work.
On the other hand, Governor Romney's strength derives from his solid experience in understanding free enterprise and having the vision to help businesses succeed and therefore create jobs. Governor Romney's economic formula is exactly what can stabilize businesses and help them feel confident to invest in our workers.
President Obama has serious reasons to be concerned. He can't run and hide behind social issues because this election is about the state of the economy and jobs. He is also watching his own favorable ratings drop while Governor Romney's favorability continues to increase. More negative signs include a recent Gallup poll, which shows that more Americans believe that Romney would do a better job improving the economy than Obama.
President Obama's tactic to attack Governor Romney's character and try to portray him as an insensitive, job-destroying business executive is not working. The president is trying to shift the conversation so that voters will not focus on his own dismal economic record.
So voters look at the bleak state of the economy, their inability to move ahead or even get a job, and may conclude that President Obama's unfair economic policies have failed. That opening is exactly where Governor Romney has an opportunity to talk about his pro-growth economic message and explain how as president he can help American businesses and job seekers.
President Obama should heed the advice of many of his own Democratic colleagues who have called the attacks "nauseating" and "unfair" and stay clear of criticizing Romney for his tenure at Bain Capital.
In November, voters will need to decide between a community activist turned law professor or the businessman who has saved struggling businesses and helped start new ones. Under our prolonged economic crisis, the businessman would be the wiser choice.
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Stephanie Slade Project Director at The Winston Group
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
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Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research