It seemed like the perfect political setting for Mitt Romney. A shuttered dry-wall factory in Lorain, Ohio — a swing state hit hard by the recession — where four years ago then-candidate Obama promised to turn-around the economy.
“It would have reopened by now but it’s still empty,” Romney said, standing in the middle of an empty warehouse floor. “It underscores the failure of this president’s policies with regards to getting the economy working again.”
The only problem? The factory actually closed in June 2008, seven months before Obama took office. And during the Obama administration, unemployment has actually fallen in Ohio from 8.6 percent in January 2009 to 7.6 percent in February 2012.
“If Mitt Romney wants to convince the American people that he will ‘tell the truth,’ he might want to start by ending his deceptive rhetoric on the campaign trail,” said spokeswoman Lis Smith, in a statement.
The dry-wall dust-up illustrated one of the major questions of the election: Is Obama to blame for the slow economic recovery?
For Romney, the answer is, of course, yes. While Obama didn’t start the recession, Romney’s aides argue that White House policies have lengthened the economic slow-down and deepened the pain felt by American families.
“The fact that it struggled through the last three years is not the fault of Barack Obama’s predecessor,” said spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom, of the factory. “It’s the fault of this administration and the failure of their policies to really get this economy moving again.”
The Obama administration counters that under their administration the economy has begun to rebound.
“We’ve gone from losing 750,000 jobs a month when he took office to creating over 4 million private sector jobs in the last 25 months,” said Smith.
But more than economic indicators, the election will turn on how voters feel about their personal financial situation. So far, even though the economy is improving, surveys show that most voters do not yet feel major impacts.
Nearly two-thirds of people are worried about paying for their housing and 20 percent of people with mortgages say they are underwater, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.