For about a month, we've been covering an interesting trend that Mitt Romney's presidential campaign finds problematic: some of his key gubernatorial allies keep telling voters the economy is getting better.
Many of the nation's key swing states -- Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania -- are led by Republican governors, each of whom are eager to tell their constituents that the economy is looking up. Romney is urging voters in these states to feel depressed and pessimistic, while Romney's gubernatorial allies are urging the opposite.
As other media outlets have picked up on this, the tension between Romney and the governors has grown more intense, as we saw last week with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Bloomberg News reports today the problem is even more dramatic in the Sunshine State.
Mitt Romney's presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state's economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee's message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Scott, a Republican, was asked to say that the state's jobless rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency, according to the people, who asked not to be named.
The meta angle is itself interesting -- Scott's office is annoyed enough with the Romney campaign that it's willing to leak word of Romney's untoward requests to the media.
But on a more practical level, the significance of a story like this is pretty extraordinary. Mitt Romney wants Americans to believe the economy is in worse shape than it really is, and he expects his allies to "tone down" good economic news in order to deliberately encourage pessimism.
The reality is, the unemployment rates in a majority of the 2012 battleground states are "lower than the national average as those economies improve." In Florida, the rate is still above the national average, but it's dropped for 11 consecutive months.
It creates a challenge for Romney, which he's stumbling to address: telling voters in these key states not to believe their lying eyes while convincing his gubernatorial allies to help him sell the con.
There's some evidence that Romney's scheme is unnecessary -- voters are swayed more by national economics than state economics -- but as Rick Scott's office makes clear, the Republican apparently isn't taking any chances.