On the issues: The Economy
The economy is employment, and unemployment. It's taxes and the National Debt.
It's big money and a big part of how we measure the quality of our lives.
The economy is also President Obama's biggest weakness.
When he took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. And it's 7.8 percent today. But millions of Americans still can't find work, or have given up trying.
In September, 2009, the National Debt was $11.9 trillion, now it's over $16 trillion.
The president put the best spin he could on those numbers in New Hampshire:
"After losing around 800,000 jobs in a month when I took office, business once again added jobs for the 30th month in a row--a total of more than 4.6 million jobs,” President Obama said.
Count former Gov. Mitt Romney among the unimpressed:
“His policies have not helped create jobs, they have depressed them," Romney said.
Romney says he can create 12 million new jobs in the next four years by making America energy independent; improving education; negotiating new trade agreements; cutting the deficit; balancing the budget; and championing small businesses.
The president points to his $85 billion bailout of the auto industry, and his $800 billion stimulus package as proof his ideas to boost the economy work.
They disagree about the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts”: Romney wants to keep them all; Obama wants to end them for families making over $250,000 a year.
"I've cut taxes for those who need it--middle class families and small businesses. But I don't believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores, or pay down the deficit," the president said.
To which Romney would reply:
"That's what this president doesn't seem to understand. Business and growing jobs is about taking risk, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always striving," Romney said.
History says no president since FDR has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2 percent.
Barack Obama would be the first.