Romney to talk up economic policies

Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 01:00

MITT ROMNEY sought to refocus his presidential bid on his economic policies as aides tried to persuade anxious Republicans not to panic against the backdrop of disappointing polling data and reports of infighting among his campaign staff.

US president Barack Obama’s challenger zeroed in on a promise to cut government spending by $500 billion (€382 billion) a year by the end of his first term by cutting all government programmes that were not “essential” and eliminating 10 per cent of the federal workforce by attrition.

The effort to roll out more specific policies came as Neil Newhouse, Mr Romney’s chief pollster, said voters did not understand the difference between the Republican’s and Mr Obama’s position on taxes and the deficit.

Even as a new advertisement emphasised Mr Romney’s plan to “help the middle class”, in part by cracking down on “cheaters like China”, the Obama administration said it was lodging a complaint against Beijing at the World Trade Organisation over alleged subsidies for its car and car-parts industries.

At a rally in the swing state of Ohio, Mr Obama, whose campaign has lambasted Mr Romney as an arch outsourcer of jobs, dismissed his vow to get tough on China. “Ohio, you can’t stand up to China when all you’ve done is send them our jobs,” he said. The messages were overshadowed by complaints by Republicans who worry that, with seven weeks to go before election day, Mr Romney trails in most swing states.

The former chief executive, whose message was that he was a problem-solver, now stands accused by some in his own party of running a disorganised campaign. “The very simple truth is that Mitt Romney has failed to close any deal with the voters and his message is so muddled no voter really knows what they are getting,” said Erick Erickson, an influential conservative blogger. He said Republican campaign strategist Stuart Stevens was creating “lots and lots and lots of angst” among donors and people close to the campaign.

Polls show that Mr Obama has an edge in key swing states. But Mr Romney’s campaign was yesterday claiming that the president’s bounce in the polls after the Democratic convention in Charlotte was dissipating. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012)