Mitt Romney may have solidified his status as the GOP’s presumptive nominee Tuesday night, winning five big state primaries, and relaunching his campaign for what is expected to be a tough fight against President Barack Obama, especially on the economy.
A number of polls show Obama holding a narrow lead over Romney, but with the president vulnerable because of dissatisfaction with his handling of the economy, the Washington Post said.
In a speech highly critical of Obama’s policies, Romney pledged to rebuild a U.S economy that is “the most innovative, most productive, and the most powerful economy in the world.” Playing on Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign message, Romney said Tuesday, “It’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid.”
“As I look around at the millions of Americans without work, the graduates who can’t get a job, the soldiers who return home to an unemployment line, it breaks my heart. This does not have to be,” Romney said. “We will restore the promise of America only if we restore the principles of freedom and opportunity that made America the greatest nation on earth.”
President Obama continued his call to maintain low college loan rates, hoping to energize young people, who helped get him elected in 2008 but are now less enthusiastic and facing a difficult job market and heavy student loan debt (News&Observer).
The president decried the possibility of federal student loan interest rates doubling as of July 1 on late-night television and got host Jimmy Fallon and house band The Roots into the act for some comic relief (HuffPost). Obama said he did not want to see young people forgo college because of the cost and that eduction is imperative for the United States to stay globally competitive.
Keeping student loan rates low is a topic on which Obama and Romney agree, but, due to Republican opposition in Congress, it is unclear if current rates will be renewed. Visiting several colleges Tuesday, Obama emphasized his personal experience paying for college in an effort to strike a contrast with the wealthy Romney, the Associated Press said.
U.S. economic confidence is unchanged from the previous week but remains up from two weeks ago and within two points of the high of the past four years, Gallup says. The stabilization — and even decline, in some places — of gas prices has contributed to the consistent high economic numbers, the pollster says, though further increases in economic numbers are not expected.
“It seems unlikely that economic confidence will build on its recent gains, given the current climate that includes doubts about the unemployment situation, the financial difficulties created by the situation in Europe, China’s economy seeming to slow down, and Wall Street taking a tumble,” Gallup said.
Former Secretary of State and Bush administration national security adviser Condoleezza Rice could be Republicans’ top choice of a running mate for Romney, winning 26 percent of voters surveyed in a recent CNN/ORC International poll. Rice is five points ahead of Rick Santorum, the next highest choice of voters polled.
– Contributing Editor Gayle S. Putrich