A super PAC supporting President Obama’s reelection launched a new ad in five swing states Tuesday, attacking Mitt Romney on the day delegates at the Republican National Convention in Tampa will vote to nominate him for president.
The ad by Priorities USA Action stars a Massachusetts woman named Olive Chase, who describes herself as a disillusioned former Romney backer.
“I’m an independent. I voted for him. I contributed to him,” Chase says in the ad. “Governor Romney promised that he would bring jobs to this state. By the time Governor Romney left office, we had fallen to 47th in the nation in terms of job growth.”
The town clerk’s office in Barnstable, where Chase lives, confirmed she is an unenrolled voter. Records at the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance show Chase did donate to Romney but not during his run for governor in 2002. She contributed $500 to Romney in November 2004, midway through his term in office.
Chase’s claim that Massachusetts “had fallen to 47th in the nation in terms of job growth” by the end of Romney’s tenure is one the Obama campaign has repeated throughout the campaign.
Bureau of Labor Statistics figures confirm that over the four-year period 2003 to 2006—the four full years Romney was governor—Massachusetts jobs grew by 1.26 percent, ranking the Bay State 47th out of 50 states. In the previous four-year span, under Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift, Massachusetts had been 35th in the nation.
But BLS numbers also show that on a year-by-year basis, Massachusetts made notable gains in job growth between Romney’s first year in office and his last. In 2003, the number of jobs in Massachusetts shrank by 1.39 percent, the worst mark in the country. In 2006, Massachusetts jobs grew by 1.06 percent—32nd in the nation and an 18-spot improvement.
“That’s the trend line that you want to see,” Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said in June while arguing about job creation numbers with Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s called a turnaround. And it’s what this president has been unable to execute with the national economy.”
In fact, Obama also has presided over an economy that has gone from losing jobs early in his term to one that has gradually added jobs in each of the last 29 months.
Romney and Obama defend their economic records in similar fashion: Both point to problems they inherited as reasons why their cumulative job growth numbers are weak, while noting steady progress in later years.
The Romney campaign also notes frequently that the Massachusetts unemployment rate dipped to 4.7 percent by the end of his term in office—“full employment,” as former Lieutenant Governor Kerry M. Healey told the Massachusetts delegation in Tampa on Monday, referring to the fact that most economists consider anything under 5 percent to be a full employment level.
In the new Priorities USA Action ad—airing in Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia—Chase concludes that “Governor Romney cares about big business. He cares about tax cuts for wealthy people.”
“I certainly do not believe he cares about my hardworking employees,” adds Chase, who owns The Casual Gourmet catering company in Centerville, which employs 29 people, according to the ad. “I feel like I was duped by Mitt Romney. I’m going to vote for President Obama.”
Chase did not immediately respond to phone messages left at her home and office.Callum Borchers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.