You have to hand it to Mitt Romney’s campaign for fortunate timing. Thanks to Barack Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board yesterday, the NLRB has become a hot topic again — especially in the Carolinas. In his new campaign ad, “Free Enterprise,” Romney rips Obama for appointing “union stooges” to the NLRB and calls the NLRB attack on Boeing “simply un-American … political payback of the worst kind”:
National Journal calls this a “smart move” in the next big primary state:
Romney has consistently hammered the right-to-work issue during his campaign stops in South Carolina, often referring to Obama-allied labor leaders as “union stooges.” Romney’s new ad pounds that theme, and shows him telling Boeing workers, “You’re seeing a president adopt policies which affect our economy based not upon what’s right for the American worker but instead what’s right for their politics.”
It’s a smart tactical move in socially conservative South Carolina, where Romney is considered vulnerable because of his moderate reputation. (He only won 15 percent of the vote there in 2008, finishing a disappointing fourth.) The state suffers from an unemployment rate that is hovering around 10 percent, and Romney is hoping to win over moderate Republicans and independents — it’s an open primary — while the conservative vote is splintered between Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry (whose decision to keep running helps Romney immensely in a state like South Carolina).
To be sure, Romney’s won’t be running a one-note campaign in South Carolina; he’ll also likely talk at length about military and foreign policy issues in a state with a high proportion of veterans. But while his Republican rivals barnstorm the state next week professing their faith and support for the tea party, look for Romney to project a laser-like focus on restoring jobs to the state.
Yes, it’s a smart move, and it could help Romney raise his support in the state. The last polling showed Newt Gingrich still holding a double-digit lead, but that was in the middle of December when Gingrich rode a little higher in the polls than he does at the moment. Rick Santorum will almost certainly gain support with the social-conservative voters in the Palmetto State, but the economy will be the biggest issue — and especially Obama’s attempt to use the NLRB to punish right-to-work states for attracting business. I’d expect other Republicans in the race to make similar pitches in the next few days, but the timing of Romney’s ad will perhaps get him the most notice for it.