LAS VEGAS -- Nevada is entering the long, hot summer as a key battleground state in this year's presidential race with President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney emphasizing the jobs issue in competing advertisements airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8.
While high unemployment continues to grip the nation, Nevada has been at or near the top in that category since the Great Recession began, making this an obvious issue for Democrat Obama and Republican Romney to highlight in this state.
Obama has a jobs ad that features cutaways of workers, including teachers, firefighters and construction laborers. The spot ends with a shot of the U.S. Capitol.
"We're still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," Obama says. "Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months but we're still not creating them as fast as we want."
A narrator cuts in: "The president's jobs plan would put teachers, firefighters, police officers and construction workers back to work right now. And it's paid for by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more. But Congress refuses to act. Tell Congress we can't wait."
Romney in his ad is seen delivering speeches, meeting workers and standing in front of a banner that reads, "Cut The Spending."
"Mitt Romney on Day One," the narrator says. "The difference is strong leadership. As governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney had the best jobs record in a decade. Romney reduced unemployment to just 4.7 percent. He balanced every budget without raising taxes. He did it by bringing parties together to cut through gridlock. From day one as president, Mitt Romney's strong leadership will make all the difference on jobs."
Obama has a counter ad that challenges Romney's credentials as a jobs creator. This ad, depicting Romney as governor, also features an empty factory, a call center and a middle class family.
The narrator says: "It started like this." Romney, speaking as governor, says: "I speak the language of business. I know how jobs are created." Narrator: "But it ended like this. One of the worst economic records in the country. When Mitt Romney was governor Massachusetts lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs, a rate twice the national average and fell to 47th in job creation, fourth from the bottom. Instead of hiring workers from his own state Romney outsourced call center jobs to India. He cut taxes for millionaires like himself while raising them on the middle class and left the state $2.6 billion deeper in debt. So now, when Mitt Romney talks about what he'd do as president..." Romney: "I know what it takes to create jobs." Narrator: "Remember, we've heard it all before." Romney "I know how jobs are created." Narrator: "Romney economics. It didn't work then and it won't work now."
The takeaway from Obama is this: He touts private sector job growth under his watch but says more can be done. He wants Congress to increase taxes on wealthier Americans to boost public sector employment and create more construction jobs through highway and bridge projects. He also says Romney cannot be trusted as a job creator based on his performance as governor of Massachusetts.
The takeaway from Romney is this: He says he had a record as governor to be proud of, proving he knows how to reduce unemployment. He also says he ran government without raising taxes, and also knows how to work on both sides of the political aisle. The implication is that he can work with a divided Congress.
Obama is also reaching out to military veterans, who make up a substantial portion of voters in Southern Nevada. He is running an ad that features troops in action, returning soldiers and a wounded veteran.
Obama says: "The sacrifices that our troops have made have been incredible. It's because of what they've done that we've been able to go after al-Qaida and kill Bin Laden. And when they come home we have a sacred trust to make sure that we are doing everything we can to heal all of their wounds, giving them the opportunities that they deserve to find a job and get the education that they need. It's not enough just to make a speech about how much we value veterans. It's not enough just to remember them on Memorial Day."
The Obama administration has highlighted not only the U.S. special forces operation that killed Osama bin Laden, but also the deaths of other top al-Qaida leaders under the president's watch. Republicans, while grateful for the blows to the terrorist organization, have complained that the administration is exercising poor taste by trying to take political advantage of the strikes against al-Qaida.