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Romney tries to raise the bar for Obama

Mitt Romney's election-night speech was mostly lost amid the shock at Rick Santorum's three upset victories. Beyond congratulating Santorum and laying the groundwork to make the case against him, Romney also used his remarks to take another shot at setting the terms of debate for the general election.

Much as, after the Nevada caucuses, Romney took airtime to argue that the recent drop in unemployment should be mostly discounted, he urged voters last night to look back at the goals President Obama set for himself in 2008 and whether he's met them:

More Americans have lost their jobs during President Obama’s term than during any other in modern history. And more Americans have lost their homes during President Obama’s term than during any other in modern history. Under his own definition, President Obama has failed. We will succeed!

In that same speech in Denver, candidate Obama said progress would be determined by “whether the average American family saw its income go up … instead of down."  During the last four years, the median income has fallen by around 10%. Under his own definition, President Obama has failed. We will succeed!

Candidate Obama went on to say that we could measure progress by "whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business.”  Have you seen what's happened to small business? Last year, under President Obama, there were almost 100,000 fewer new business start-ups than there were three years before. By his own definition, President Obama has failed. We will succeed!

Candidate Obama said we could see progress in “an economy that honors the dignity of work.”  Under President Obama, the average duration of unemployment has more than doubled and 14 million more people are on food stamps. By his own definition, President Obama has failed. We will succeed!

This week, President Obama said that he deserves a second term because, and I quote, “We’ve made progress.”  No, Mr. President, under the definition of progress you described here four years ago, you have not made progress.

Candidate Obama versus President Obama may be the favorite Republican narrative of the cycle, and it could be powerful once it has the full weight of the GOP presidential nominee and an entire party apparatus behind it. Right now, there's a cart-before-horse quality to the argument, and the potential down side for Romney is coming off as dour -- trying to convince the country to feel worse than it does -- when what he really needs to do is make a convincing, affirmative case for his own candidacy.



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