June's disappointing unemployment numbers are good news for Mitt Romney's campaign – and not just for the obvious reason.
There's an inverse relationship between the performance of the US economy and Romney's chances this November. The further the unemployment rate drops, the better President Barack Obama's chances of getting re-elected this fall, while a poor economic performance bodes well for Romney. It also gives him a chance to change the topic back to the economy, which his aides have repeatedly said is their best strategy to take the White House from Obama.
Romney took a beating this week from some conservative critics. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch slammed him on Twitter because he “seems to play everything safe,” a comment The New York Times noted highlights the divide between the former Massachusetts governor and the conservative wing of his party. Commentator Laura Ingraham took Romney to task for going on vacation, while Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol asked, “Is it too much to ask Mitt Romney to get off autopilot and actually think about the race he's running?”
That was just the friendly fire. The Obama campaign hammered away at reports of Romney's offshore bank accounts and blind trusts. Romney didn't help himself by telling CBS News that the Affordable Care Act includes a “tax” on citizens who refuse to get health insurance, just two days after his chief spokesman called it a “penalty.” Massachusetts' state website describes the similar part of his state healthcare law a “tax penalty.”
Until about 9am on Friday, most political observers would have said the Obama campaign won the week. However, the news cycle's focus on the tepid job-growth numbers throughout this weekend will give Romney the opportunity to change the subject back to what he wants to talk about: the economy.