Has the GOP lost its aim?

Scott Tong Oct 23, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Fifteen days until Election Day. And for Republicans reading the polls, not a moment too soon for the President to start taking economic credit. It’s a big week for that. There’s the Dow, of course. The Fed starts meeting tomorrow on interest rates. And we’ll get a sneak peek at how gross domestic product did in the third quarter on Friday morning. So today the President tried to stake his claim. Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.

SCOTT TONG: The president hung out today with community bankers and small business owners. Later, he spoke to CNBC, the financial cable channel. And he put things in terms of the average guy.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Wages have gone up in real terms. In other words, having been adjusted for inflation. Hi healthcare costs are still high but his gasoline prices are low . . . lower. And when you couple all that with the tax cuts he’s got more money in his pocket.

Take that picture, stir in a record Dow and a dash of consumer optimism, and it seems a winning political recipe. So here’s the head-scratcher:

The independent Pew Research Center found voters who care most about the economy favor Democrats by 20 points. The center’s Michael Dimock says it reflects an overall sour mood.

MICHAEL DIMOCK: While the situation in Iraq, or corruption in politics is not related to the economy, it’s a drag on people’s economic outlook. Because they’re very cynical about the way things are going more generally.

And Democrats are trying to seize on that. They argue that the spoils of this expansion go to the rich more than ever, and that everyone else’s incomes barely keep up with inflation.

The question is, why are Republicans talking economy, if they’re not gaining any traction on the issue?Jordan Lieberman publishes the magazine Campaigns and Elections:JORDAN LIEBERMAN: The Republicans have exhausted most of their other pillars. National security is not really something they can run on the way they used to. Social issues are out the door with Congressman Foley. And what’s left is the economy.

In Washington, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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