COLUMBUS — As the economy in Ohio and other swing states improves, voters are getting mixed messages about who deserves the credit.
Governors in states recovering from the Great Recession are taking credit for job creation and shorter unemployment lines at the same time Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney rallies supporters around tales of an economy decimated by President Obama at events in those same states.
Both Romney and President Barack Obama were in Ohio last week pushing their economic plans.
National unemployment has hovered around 8.2 percent in 2012 — better than the 10 percent it was in October 2010 — but still far from pre-recession rates consistently less than 5 percent.
Ohio has recovered better than the national average. Unemployment numbers have dropped for 10 consecutive months, at 7.3 percent in May.
Amid the mixed messages, the Obama campaign says the president should get some credit for improving state economies like Ohio’s.
Obama campaign officials plan to release a report today touting the president and the administration’s role in improving Ohio’s automotive, manufacturing and energy industries among others.
“While there is still more work to be done, Ohio is helping lead the nation out of the recession,” Aaron Pickrell, senior adviser for the Obama campaign in Ohio, told the Springfield NewsSun on Thursday. “Romney’s doom and gloom message about the president’s policies are both laughable and being proven wrong by what is happening in Ohio.”
Romney spokesman Chris Maloney said the leadership of Ohio Gov. Kasich and other Republican governors has allowed some states to succeed despite Obama’s policies coming out of Washington.
“Many governors have brought new ideas and fresh approaches to their states, and Gov. Romney frequently praises them for their ability to overcome the job-killing policies of the Obama administration,” Maloney said. “Any statement to the contrary is not in line with Gov. Romney’s thoughts or his message in supporting Ohio job creators.”
Bloomberg news reported Thursday that Romney advisers asked Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott to tone down his positive economy message. A Scott spokesman later denied the report.
Kasich told reporters Thursday his message does not conflict with Romney’s and he had not been asked by the Romney campaign to change his message.
Kasich said Ohio is doing better but could do far better under a Romney presidency that would encourage investment and enact “more rational regulatory policies.”
“There’s some 94,000 jobs, which is great, but we still have the wind in our face,” Kasich said. “I was very nervous about the last unemployment numbers and I’m nervous about next month’s unemployment numbers. When you have all this uncertainty out of Washington you have a problem.”
Kasich threw his support behind Romney in April, but the governor has been absent from recent visits by Romney in Ohio.
Romney and Kasich sent mixed signals during a discussion with Otterbein University students in April — Romney spoke about the tough job market for grads while Kasich boasted 80,000 jobs were listed on the state website.
But the Obama economic report says the economy began to rebound earlier, before Kasich was elected in November 2010. The report notes the auto industry rescue directly helped General Motors, Chrysler and Honda grow their Ohio businesses and touts Obama’s goal to double exports by the end of 2014.
“While we are on the right track,” the report reads, “the President knows we still have a long way to go.”
In an interview with the (Columbus) Dispatch last week, Romney credited Kasich’s “pro-growth polices” and state budget balancing for Ohio’s good economic news.