Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are going head to head, and both sides agree that the economy will be the central issue in the presidential election this November.
"It's still the economy, and we're not stupid," Romney told a victory rally in New Hampshire after he won five GOP primaries Tuesday night, modifying the famous slogan of Bill Clinton's successful 1992 campaign, "It's the economy, stupid."
Romney said Obama has failed as president and urged Americans to, "Hold on a little longer. A better American begins tonight."
For his part, Obama told a packed house at the University of Colorado that he understands everyday people's concerns, including the worries of students who have a huge debt burden from financing their education. Obama said he and his wife Michelle don't come from rich families and know what it's like to be "in your shoes." He said the couple managed to pay off their college and law school debts only eight years ago. It was a pointed reference to Romney's vast fortune and criticisms that the former Massachusetts governor can't understand the problems of everyday people.
For his part, Romney is trying to emerge as a sort of presidential repair man, a former investor and ex-governor who can the improve the economy, create jobs, and reduce the federal deficit. Tuesday night, he said Obama has had his chance and proved to be an incompetent economic manager.
Romney staked claim to the Republican presidential nomination by sweeping all five primaries Tuesday in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island—all by commanding margins. He now has 844 delegates, the Associated Press estimated, with 1,144 needed for the nomination. Only two other candidates are left in the GOP race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and both are far behind Romney in delegates.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News & World Report and writes a daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington." You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter.