RNC to counter Dem convention with focus on Obama economy

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday that the GOP would launch an aggressive effort to counter the message from the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., this week.

Speaking on CNN’s "Starting Point," Priebus said Republicans would respond to Democrats “with facts” and press voters to ask themselves if they were better off economically than four years ago.

Priebus said the RNC had a response team at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, near the Democratic convention site. “We’ve set up with about 50 to 75 press folks down there and we’re going to be able to respond to anything the Democrats say,” he said.

“The fundamental question’s back on the table for Americans, which is: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? Issues come and go ... but at the end of the day this is going to be about facts."

On Monday, senior Obama campaign officials pressed a message that the country was better after the president’s first term. But their response contrasted with Sunday, when top Obama surrogates sidestepped the question. 

Republicans over the weekend seized on a remark from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) that voters were not better off. On Monday, O’Malley walked back those remarks, saying that the country was “clearly” better off, but that the recovery would be a long process.

Priebus said that issue would be the GOP’s theme all this week. “The facts don’t bear it out. That’s why guys like David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs and David Plouffe couldn’t answer the question yesterday on the Sunday morning shows. The facts are fewer people are employed today. The debt seems more out of control than it ever was in the history of this country. The president didn’t cut the deficit in half as he promised. 

“We’re worse off."

Priebus said Obama had already run against the Bush economy in 2008 and “won in large part” because of that issue. “He said he would fix the economy and people would be better off four years from now because of him. So it’s not good enough to now come — what you’re going to see this week — and say, ‘Well, we don’t want to go back to Bush.’ ”

The RNC plans this week to host daily press conferences, release Web videos and direct voters to its “Obama Isn’t Working” website to hit the president on his economic record. 

A press release from the RNC said the website would “remind Americans of the failed promises and failed policies of the past four years.” 

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis), the GOP vice presidential nominee, is also expected to hammer home the theme during an event in Greenville, N.C., on Monday.

“President Obama’s failure of leadership has led to 42 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent, 23 million Americans struggling for work, $5 trillion in new debt and a $716 billion cut in Medicare to fund ObamaCare,” said Ryan in a statement Sunday.

The Obama campaign, faced with a persistently slow recovery, has argued that the challenges left by the Bush administration were unique and that the president needs more time to turn the economy around. 

Republicans, though, say that Obama now owns the economy and is blaming his predecessors to distract voters from his own failed economic record.