After a landslide victory in New Hampshire Tuesday, Mitt Romney blasted President Barack Obama's record on the economy, saying "this president has enacted job killing regulations."
But Wednesday, with his speech and forum on "insourcing" jobs, Obama sought to contrast those accusations by bringing in more than a dozen businesses that have made strides in bringing jobs back to the United States, including Master Lock and Ford Motor Company.
"We're at an inflection point where we have the opportunity for those jobs to come back—the business leaders in this room are ahead of the curve, they recognize that," Obama said, before launching into a list of his administration's accomplishments including forging trade agreements with South Korea and rescuing the American auto industry.
"My message to business leaders today is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to the country that made our success possible," Obama said. "We're going to have to seize this moment. It can make all the difference for the strength of our economy."
But how much of the speech was a convenient PR opportunity for the president, and will anything concrete come out of the meeting of minds?
"The firms will probably announce that they're going to bring back some of the jobs here, but they already had planned to," says Peter Morici, an economics professor at the University of Maryland. "Obama is doing this because he's anticipating Romney's going to be the nominee and Romney's going to make a big deal out of it."
With Romney fresh off wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama is gearing up for the ultimate contest for the presidency, making speeches and creating taskforces to bolster his image as business-friendly and a defender of middle-class jobs.
But all the panels and forums and taskforces in the world don't change the reality of the situation, Morici says. "Unless Obama is willing to do the tough stuff, that is, change the exchange rate with China, it's going to be hard to manufacture more stuff in the United States," Morici says. "Just urging these people to do something isn't going to change the math. It's a bottom line issue."
These types of forums and events are likely to be more frequent as GOP primaries wind down, especially as Obama tries to solidify his support base and convince American voters that he's actively made strides to create jobs and pull the economy out of the doldrums.
"What Obama's trying to do is show he's in favor of developing the U.S. economy and doing whatever is possible to grow jobs," says Greg Daco, economist at IHS Global Insight. "This shows that he's ready to defend U.S. jobs, something that voters always pay attention to."