Romney did not, however, do what he spent 2011 doing: he didn't accuse President Obama of making the economy "worse."
improving under Obama.
The L.A. Times had a good report on this yesterday, noting that Romney effectively had no choice.
[A]fter months of steady job growth, improved consumer confidence and big gains on Wall Street, the economy seems in less dire need of fixing, and Romney has been forced to alter his message or risk seeming out of touch.
"I believe the economy's coming back," Romney said at a breakfast stop Monday in Springfield, where the former Massachusetts governor campaigned ahead of Tuesday's Illinois primary.
But he gave absolutely no credit to President Obama -- "the economy always comes back after recession" -- and insisted the administration's policies had made matters worse and the recovery slower than it should have been.
Greg Sargent added, "This yet another sign that the Romney campaign is betting heavily on the possibility that the American people won't remember or factor in just how awful a crisis Obama inherited upon taking office."
Quite right. At this point, the old Reagan line -- "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" -- is the one question Romney and the Republican Party doesn't want Americans to ask, because it's so transparently obvious that national conditions have improved considerably.
This is not to say that conditions are good, necessarily, only that they're better. When FDR sought re-election in 1936, the unemployment rate was 17%, but he won re-election in a historic landslide -- not because a 17% unemployment rate was satisfactory, but because Americans realized Roosevelt inherited a crisis and helped get the country back on track.
It was about the direction, not the condition -- like now, the economy went from losing jobs to gaining jobs, from contraction to growth.
It makes Romney's challenge very difficult. His pitch is, in effect, "Sure, Obama inherited a global crash, took steps to turn the economy around, and I'll concede that things are now better. But vote against him anyway because I perceive us lacking ... economic 'freedom.'"
This is the single most important aspect of the 2012 presidential election, and Mitt Romney appears to have found himself without an argument.