Romney Campaign Reportedly Asked Florida Governor To Downplay Job Growth

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Mitt Romney’s campaign asked Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to downplay his state’s job growth after several press releases from the governor’s campaign and messages from the Florida Chamber of Commerce trumpeted gains for the month of May, according to Bloomberg News.

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.7 percent in April to 8.6 percent in May, though still significantly above the national rate of 8.2 percent.

A Romney adviser reportedly requested that Scott’s office say that Florida’s unemployment rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency, unnamed sources told Bloomberg.

The development is perhaps one of the clearest examples of the messaging predicament the Romney campaign finds itself in. For the Republican presidential nominee, the election is largely a referendum on President Obama’s handling of jobs and the economy. And with last month’s weak jobs report, he appeared to have a winning message. Yet when you ask Republican governors how things are going, especially in swing states, the economic picture starts to brighten considerably – as TPM’s Benjy Sarlin first reported back in March:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott used his annual address the same month to brag about how his state had “netted more than 120,000 total jobs in the first 11 months of 2011,” even as unemployment remained among the highest in the nation.

“When I said, ‘Let’s get to work,’ it wasn’t just a slogan,” he said. “Florida got to work, and each Floridian deserves the credit!”

Even in Nevada, which holds the worst unemployment rate in the nation after a devastating housing collapse, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is finding reasons to be cheerful.

“Nevada is on the move again!” he told business leaders in December. “We are seeing signs, some large, some small, of economic improvement.”

Update: In what might be one example of the release in question, an email from Scott’s re-election campaign two days ago, on June 18, features the governor highlighting Florida’s unemployment level dropping to the “lowest level since 2008.” Here’s an excerpt:

Dear Friend,

Last week, Florida’s economic recovery reached an important milestone as our unemployment rate dropped to 8.6% – our lowest since 2008.

Lower taxes, reduced regulation and a balanced state-budget continue to drive our remarkable turnaround and set the national standard for job growth. With 9,200 jobs created last month, a total of 99,600 private sector jobs have been added since my first day in office. I’m also happy to report that our unemployment rate has declined for 11 consecutive months.

A post featuring a downward trending graph on Scott’s Facebook page also touts the news, even asking followers if it can reach “800 likes” (It got 2,559).

Late Update: A Facebook post by Florida’s Chamber of Commerce also touted the job gains on June 15:

Florida’s unemployment rate continues to drop! May’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.6% – the lowest since December 2008 – and continues to move in the right direction under Governor Rick Scott! The unemployment rate has dropped 2% in one year. Like this if you think this is good news for Florida!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site’s coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at igor@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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