Josh’s Brief #3

The story of the Romney campaign trying to get the extremely unpopular Gov. Rick Scott of Florida to stop crowing about recent job growth in his state is, on one level, just a clumsy leak and a bad news cycle. (Here are the statements from the Scott camp that got Romney and Co. so freaked.) But it lays bare a key dynamic in the 2012 cycle. While the national economy is now sputtering, in key states it’s actually doing fairly well. And as luck or bad luck would have it, several of those states are critical national swing states — most notably, states in the industrial midwest like Ohio and the critical state of Virginia.As Benjy Sarlin has been explaining for a few months, this has consistently been a problem for the Romney campaign. Just a week ago, Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s top advisor — one imagines maybe at the Romney campaign’s prompting — was reduced to explaining that job growth in Ohio is actually in spite of Obama’s stewardship of the national economy, not because of it. But even with this special pleading, the overall Kasich message is totally at odds with the one Romney is pushing nationwide. Gov. Walker of Wisconsin, with similarly good job numbers in his state, also noted that the still-strong economy in several key swing states is going to be a problem for Romney.

The industrial midwest, as it often is, is turning out to be a critical battleground this year. And the key in states like Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin is that in each case there are very good economic arguments that a central driver is Obama industrial policy — particularly the bailout of the auto industry.

We’ll bring you more on this story through the day. But it’s one of those not altogether frequent cases where an embarrassing leak story, which is just sort of comical in itself, opens up a much more substantive and important angle on the big story of the election.

Look forward to more coming through the day.