In what his campaign billed as his “closing argument,” Mitt Romney warned Americans that a second term for President Obama would have apocalyptic consequences for the economy in part because his own party would force a debt ceiling disaster.
“Unless we change course, we may well be looking at another recession,” Romney told a crowd in West Allis, Wisconsin.
Romney said that Obama “promised to be a post-partisan president, but he became the most partisan” and that his bitter relations with the House GOP could threaten the economy. As his chief example, he pointed to a crisis created entirely by his own party’s choice — Republican lawmakers’ ongoing threat to reject a debt ceiling increase. Economists warn that a failure to pass such a measure would have immediate and catastrophic consequences for the recovery.
“You know that if the President is re-elected, he will still be unable to work with the people in Congress,” Romney said. “He has ignored them, attacked them, blamed them. The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy.”
Despite the apocalyptic warnings on the economy, most of the Republican nominee’s speech focused on a more modest argument that as president he would work with both sides to build a stronger economy. He said that, like Obama, “I promise change, but I have a record of achieving it.”
“I won’t spend my effort trying to pass partisan legislation that’s unrelated to economic growth,” Romney said. “From day one, I will go to work to help Americans get back to work.”
Romney’s warnings of a second recession came the same day as an unexpectedly strong jobs report which, combined with other recent indicators, has many economists hopeful that the recovery may be gaining strength. Many current projections show the economy picking up steam in the near term regardless of who wins the presidency, leading to speculation on a looming battle over who deserves the credit.
With four days left, Romney may need an exceptionally strong close to overcome the president in the electoral college. The overwhelming majority of polls show Obama with a modest but stable lead in critical swing states, most notably Ohio, and other potentially decisive states like Virginia and Colorado remain tossups at best.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.