"Many governors have brought new ideas and fresh approaches to their states, and Gov. Romney frequently praises them for their ability to overcome the job-stifling policies of the Obama administration. Any statement to the contrary is not in line with Gov. Romney’s thoughts or his message,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

But the report underlines one of the more significant challenges of the Romney campaign: casting President Obama as a failed leader on the economy when job growth in many of the swing states that will be crucial to winning the White House outpaces nationwide averages. That messaging becomes particularly difficult in battleground states like Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Pennsylvania, where Republican governors are eager to take credit for improving economies.

Of the 10 battleground states expected to swing the election this November, seven have unemployment rates lower than the national average. In states like New Hampshire, Iowa and Virginia, the unemployment rate is more than 2 percentage points lower than the country as a whole. Even in Nevada, where an 11.7 percent unemployment rate ranks as the highest in the country, the jobless rate has fallen more than 2 points from last summer.

Those numbers make Romney's messaging — singularly focused on the nation's economic performance under President Obama — a tougher sell. In Florida, that difficulty is borne out in poll numbers released Thursday.

While likely voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University gave Romney a narrow 4-point lead on the question of who would do a better job on the economy, they split evenly when asked who would create more jobs. President Obama holds a 5-point advantage when respondents were asked who would do the most "to advance the economic interests of middle-class Americans." In a national poll released Thursday by The Associated Press, more Americans trusted President Obama to handle the economy than trusted Romney.

Still, the Romney campaign believes that voters in swing states will take a look at the broad economic picture.

"President Obama’s failed economic policies have led to high unemployment and falling incomes. Gov. Romney knows that things could be better and, when he is president, will be better across the country," Saul said. "We need more of the kind of innovative leadership that is yielding positive results at the state level."