Is Mitt Romney hoping for a bad economy?

The Republican is hammering Obama on the economy, and reportedly asked a GOP governor to tone down positive statements about improving job numbers

Mitt Romney promises to put jobs first. But the presumptive GOP nominee would likely benefit politically if the jobs picture doesn't improve over the next few months.
(Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney reportedly asked Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, to "tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state's economy," says Michael C. Bender at Bloomberg. Instead, the Romney campaign would reportedly prefer it if Scott said "the state's jobless rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency." Romney and Scott both deny that allegation, but it comes on the heels of numerous other reports indicating that GOP governors in battleground states — including Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan — are making life hard for Team Romney by touting their economic successes. After all, Romney's main campaign message is that President Obama has broken the economy and the nation needs a President Romney to fix it. Is Romney cheering for a bad economy?

Of course he is: "Romney clearly sees his only hope for election as lying in bad economic news," says Laura Clawson at Daily Kos. He hasn't laid out a clear plan for "what he'd actually do to improve things," and is instead banking on broad disgust with the economy to catapult him into office. But now that the economy is showing signs of slow improvement, he's resorted to "relying on Republicans to pretend good news isn't happening."

"Mitt Romney to Rick Scott: Hush up about Florida's dropping unemployment"

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And clearly, GOP governors are a problem for Romney: The reported tension with Scott reflects a broader division between Romney and GOP governors, says Elizabeth Hewitt at Slate. "How can Republican governors campaign on their economic improvement record while Romney campaigns on the idea that Obama has made growth impossible?" Romney will try to argue that Republican governors made progress despite Obama's policies, but that's a tough message to sell.

"Romney camp said to ask Gov. Scott to downplay economic gains"

But in the end, it might not matter: The improving economy in battleground states certainly "puts Romney in a bind," says Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect. If voters "hear a Republican governor and a Democratic president praise the economy — and see evidence of improvement — they might actually feel that the economy is doing well." However, most evidence suggests that "voters care more about the national economy, and as long as it's struggling, Romney is in good shape."

"Romney to governors, "Your optimism is not helping"

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