There are two ways to run against Barack Obama: stewardship or ideology. You can run against his record or you can run against his ideas.
The stewardship case is pretty straightforward: the worst recovery in U.S. history, 42 consecutive months of 8-plus percent unemployment, declining economic growth — all achieved at a price of an additional $5 trillion of accumulated debt.
The ideological case is also simple. Just play in toto (and therefore in context) Obama’s Roanoke riff telling small-business owners: “You didn’t build that.” Real credit for your success belongs not to you — you think you did well because of your smarts and sweat? he asked mockingly — but to government that built the infrastructure without which you would have nothing.
Play it. Then ask: Is that the governing philosophy you want for this nation?
Mitt Romney’s preferred argument, however, is stewardship. Are you better off today than you were $5 trillion ago? Look at the wreckage around you. This presidency is a failure. I’m a successful businessman. I know how to fix things. Elect me, etc. etc.
Easy peasy, but highly risky.