Friday's disappointing jobs numbers and the end of the Democratic National Convention meant that the Sunday talk shows were a golden opportunity for the GOP ticket to hit the airwaves and attempt to steal back the spotlight. On NBC's Meet the Press today, Mitt Romney decried Obama's "jobless recovery," insisted that — despite whatever Clinton and Intel Jon have said — his tax plan arithmetic does add up, and called last year's budget sequester, which Paul Ryan voted for and is set to kick in on January 3rd, a "big mistake."
When asked about his decision to not mention Afghanistan in his Republican National Convention speech, Romney explained that he'd broached the topic with the American Legion the night before he accepted the GOP nomination. When asked about ObamaCare, Romney admitted that he'd like to keep the (rather popular) provisions guaranteeing coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions and keeping 25-and-unders on their parents' insurance plans. And, most importantly, Romney confirmed his aides' hard-to-believe spin from last week: Yes, he really did find Clint Eastwood's empty chair bit funny.
Oh, I was laughing at Clint Eastwood. Look, to have him get up and speak on my behalf was … a great thrill. You don't expect to have a guy like Clint Eastwood get up and, you know, read some speech off a teleprompter like a politician. You expect him to speak from the heart and that's exactly what he did.
Also, for the first time in Meet the Press history, the candidate's wife Ann Romney appeared in a pre-taped interview, doing her best to pick up where her RNC speech left off. She said that her husband's been "demonized," a not-so-subtle hint at the many Bain Capital attack ads, and worked to dispel the aura of privilege surrounding her familiy.
Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives, but I want people to believe in their hearts that we know what it is like to struggle. And our struggles have not been financial, but they've been with health and with difficulties in different things in life. [Note: Ann Romney has survived bouts of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis.] I know that people are suffering right now, and for people to think that we don't have empathy just because we're not suffering like they're suffering is ridiculous. It's ridiculous to think that you can't have empathy for somebody that's struggling. Our life has always been devoted to those that are struggling more than we are.
Sure, the Romneys have been quite generous with their money, but it's also not as if the Republican Party has ever been mistaken for the party of empathy.
Naturally, the Obama campaign wasn't about to give up the Sunday airwaves without a fight. Harvard economist, and former Obama cabinet official, Austan Goolsbee did his best to explain away the poor jobs numbers on Fox News, including why the workforce participation rate is down — prompting Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom to misspell Goolsbee's name on Twitter and call him "clueless." Obama himself extended an olive branch to Republicans, telling CBS's Face the Nation that he'd be "more than happy to work with" the other side. To this, Paul Ryan responded, "He says one thing and does another." Considering several weekend polls illustrating a one and three-point convention bounce for Obama, maybe it's an olive branch Ryan and his fellow House Republicans should grab ahold of.