GOP Seeks to Keep Campaign Focus on the Economy

Republicans look to distance Clinton from Obama ahead of prime time address.

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GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan voted for Thursday's continuing resolution.

With the Democratic National Convention starting with a strong focus on issues like abortion and equal pay for women, Republicans are still striving to focus the campaign discussion on the economy.

Press releases blasted out by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign and the Republican National Committee continue the economic arguments they highlighted last week during their own convention.

[Read: Polls shows Mitt Romney making headway with women.]

"When President [Barack] Obama told hard-working Americans they didn't build their businesses, it wasn't just a poor choice of words, the president admitted he doesn't respect our nation's job creators," said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney. "A second Obama term won't be any different, with tax hikes that will jeopardize 710,000 jobs. Mitt Romney has a different plan, which will empower small businesses and help create 12 million new jobs."

In an interview with Fox News, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan also reacted to the Democrats' first night of speeches, agreeing with an assessment by Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade that Democrats focused on spending and government programs.

"The government works for us, not the other way around," Ryan said. "But this is in perfect keeping with President Obama's philosophy of a government-centered society, of a government-driven economy. And so it doesn't really surprise me that they say this. It also kind of gives us a glimpse, Brian, of what a second term would look like if President Obama got one."

[Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.]

Republicans were spent Wednesday trying to play a little offense, offering prebuttals of former Democratic President Bill Clinton's keynote speech scheduled for the evening.

"Arguably the most memorable phrase (not related to a scandal) that Bill Clinton uttered during his presidency came in his 1996 State of the Union address: 'The era of big government is over,'" wrote the Wall Street Journal editorial distributed to reporters by Republicans. "And for a few years, it was over. By contrast, Mr. Obama's four years have been spent expanding the government willy-nilly, with more spending, the promise of higher taxes, and intervention across the economy. His only economic plan now is still-more spending."

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a top surrogate for the Romney campaign, also penned an op-ed for his hometown paper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, seeking to separate Obama from Clinton.

[Read: Top 5 takeaways from the Republican National Convention.]

"The blast from the past President Clinton's appearance will provide, however refreshing it may be, simply cannot compensate for nor distract from President Obama's failed ideology and poor stewardship over his first term in the White House," Sununu wrote.

The forceful pushback ahead of Clinton's speech shows just how powerful a messenger he can be, as one of the country's most enduringly popular politicians.

Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at rmetzler@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter.

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