Romney to Prescribe Economic Fix and Unveil Jobs Plan

BY David Chalian  September 6, 2011 at 8:35 AM EDT

Mitt Romney; photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will unveil his proposal for fixing the country’s economy problems. Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

As a new round of national polling out Tuesday tells us, there is nothing more top of mind for American voters than the issue of jobs and the economy.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has talked about the issue almost to the exclusion of all others (except for those pesky health care and immigration questions that pop up at every town hall meeting) throughout his campaign.

On Tuesday, the former front-runner for the Republican nomination will be in North Las Vegas to unveil his proposal for putting the country’s economy back on course.

Romney scheduled his jobs speech for maximum general-election-style contrast with President Obama’s address to Congress later this week in an attempt to elevate himself. It also comes on the eve of the first GOP debate scheduled to include the frontrunner, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with the campaign’s hope that he’ll get to talk about his plan again in front of a national television audience Wednesday night.

“I will introduce a plan consisting of 59 specific proposals — including 10 concrete actions I will take on my first day in office — to turn around America’s economy,” Romney writes in a curtain-raising USA Today op-ed piece. “Each proposal is rooted in the conservative premise that government itself cannot create jobs. At best, government can provide a framework in which economic growth can occur. All too often, however, government gets in the way. The past three years of unparalleled government expansion have retaught that lesson all too well.”

Most of the op-ed is spent on the standard critique of President Obama for too much tax raising and too many regulations, but it will be Romney’s specific policy prescriptions that will be in the spotlight Tuesday.

He previews one such idea:

“I will create the ‘Reagan Economic Zone,’ a partnership among countries committed to free enterprise and free trade. It will serve as a powerful engine for opening markets to our goods and services, and also a mechanism for confronting nations like China that violate trade rules while free-riding on the international system. I will not stand by while China pursues an economic development policy that relies on the unfair treatment of U.S. companies and the theft of their intellectual property. I have no interest in starting a trade war with China, but I cannot accept our current trade surrender.”

Romney stakes his ground on Issue No. 1 after spending the last two days addressing Tea Party-aligned groups in New Hampshire and South Carolina. It’s been a constituency Romney hasn’t actively sought to woo thus far, but one that requires his attention as Perry continues to surge with their support.

Jon Huntsman’s campaign, which is banking on defeating Romney (or coming close) in New Hampshire in order to move forward in a viable fashion, is out with a web video attacking Romney’s job creation record in Massachusetts. (Perry offered up a similar line of attack in South Carolina Monday.)

Though Huntsman’s campaign never refers to Romney by name, the visual of a baseball mitt (get it?) is not all that subtle.

Democrats are also ready to pounce on the Romney jobs plan before it’s offered.

POLITICO’s Charlie Mahtesian has a sneak peek at the DNC’s message frame from a memo soon to be sent to reporters:

“The truth is Mitt Romney will announce a laundry list of economic proposals today. But what’s important is his vision. And by adopting the extreme policy prescriptions of the Tea Party, we know Mitt Romney’s vision is of an America that has to lower its sights, can’t realize its full potential and has to put the narrow interests of the privileged few ahead of everyone else.”

WHOLE LOTTA POLLIN’ GOING ON

The stakes for President Obama’s jobs speech Thursday just went up — again.

When the president goes before a joint session of Congress and the American people later this week, he will do so on the heels of a jobs report that found zero net positions created in July, leaving the unemployment rate stuck at 9.1 percent.

On top of that, President Obama awakes Tuesday morning with two national polls showing his presidency sinking to all-time lows when it comes to his job approval, handling of the economy and whether the country is headed in the right direction.

The NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey shows the president’s job approval rating at 44 percent, down three points from July. His handling of the economy is rated even lower at 37 percent. And only 19 percent of respondents said they thought the country was headed in the right direction, the lowest mark for the president, according to NBC News deputy political director Mark Murray.

The news for the president isn’t any better when it comes to the ABC News-Washington Post poll. Just 43 percent approve of the job he is doing as president, and 36 percent support his handling of the economy. Only 20 percent of respondents said the country was generally headed in the right direction.

Those numbers are tough to swallow and will likely mean the president will have to work even harder to sell a skeptical public — and Congress — on his jobs proposal.

If there’s a silver lining for the president in the surveys, it’s that Congress is viewed even worse than he is, which could spur lawmakers to act on some kind of jobs plan in the coming months. The NBC-Journal poll found that 82 percent of respondents disapprove of the job Congress is doing, a record level of dissatisfaction in the history of the survey. The ABC-Post poll, meanwhile, gave Republicans in Congress a 68 percent disapproval rating.

When it comes to the 2012 race, the NBC-Journal poll confirms what other surveys have found in recent weeks: Perry is the new GOP front-runner. He has a 15-point advantage over Romney, 38 percent to 23 percent, with the rest of the field with single-digit support.

Another survey released Tuesday from POLITICO/George Washington University shows Perry doubling up Romney, 36 percent to 17 percent.

SHAKING THINGS UP

If Michele Bachmann is going to rise up and win the Republican nomination, she’ll have to do it with new leadership at the top her presidential campaign.

Late Monday the Bachmann team announced it was moving forward with significant staff restructuring plans. Campaign manager Ed Rollins is taking on the reduced role of senior adviser, while deputy campaign manager David Polyansky is departing.

Rollins, who ran Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign, told POLITICO’s Maggie Haberman that he was stepping back for personal reasons.

“I wish I was 40 years old, but I’m not,” Rollins said. “I’m 68 years old, I had a stroke a year and a half ago. I’m worn out.”

Bachmann praised Rollins’ efforts in a statement released by her campaign. “In less than 50 days and with fewer resources than other campaigns, Ed was the architect that led our campaign to a historic victory in Iowa,” Bachmann said. “I am grateful for his guidance and leadership, and fortunate to retain his valuable advice even though his health no longer permits him to oversee the day-to-day operations of the campaign.”

Keith Nahigian, who had been working as an advance man for Bachmann, will take over as interim campaign manager.

The turnover comes as Bachmann has struggled to capitalize on her win at last month’s Ames Straw Poll, with much of the attention now focused on Perry, the GOP field’s newest addition.

For Bachmann, the moves also play into perceptions about her political operation, given the amount of staff turnover she has experienced during her three terms in Congress. Those changes include going through numerous chiefs of staff.

The new command at Bachmann HQ quickly needs to display a plan for dealing with the surging Perry campaign or endanger the candidate’s slippage into “also-ran” territory.

PAUL GORES PERRY

There will clearly be no Lone Star State truce in the battle for the GOP presidential nomination.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul is going up with a 60-second broadcast and web video ad in Iowa and New Hampshire hammering away at Perry for his support for Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign and contrasting that with his own support for Ronald Reagan.

From the ad’s narration: “Rick Perry helped lead Al Gore’s campaign to undo the Regan Revolution, fighting to elect Al Gore president of the United States. Now, America must decide who to trust. Al Gore’s Texas cheerleader or the one who stood with Reagan?”

“Other candidates are trying to parrot Dr. Paul’s principles, but their records prove they cannot be trusted to live up to their rhetoric. Dr. Paul is the only candidate with the credibility and integrity to restore America now,” said Paul 2012 campaign chairman Jesse Benton.

Paul’s ad comes on the heels of an anti-Perry ad launched in South Carolina by a Super PAC supporting Bachmann’s candidacy.

That the Paul and Bachmann universes see the need to go after Perry on television only three weeks after his entrance into the race indicates just how quickly the Texas governor has consolidated huge swaths of Tea Party/Republican/anti-Washington support behind his candidacy at a great expense to them both.

ON THE TRAIL

Note: All events are listed in Eastern Daylight Time.

  • Romney details his plans for job creation in North Las Vegas at 3:30 p.m.
  • Newt Gingrich holds a town hall in Pasadena, Calif., at 10:30 p.m.

Make sure to bookmark the NewsHour’s political calendar for all your planning needs.

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