Obama, Romney: Dueling speeches on the economy

Romney, Obama - a war of words on the economy
A war of words over the economy between Mitt Romney and President Obama began when the president said "the private sector is doing fine." Anthony Mason checks the facts on the numbers coming from both sides.

(CBS News) WASHINGTON -- President Obama and his presumptive Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are both going to the crucial swing state of Ohio Thursday to talk about jobs and the economy.

The president's speech has long been planned, and will be closely watched.

The president has been claiming for months that he inherited the nation's economic problems, and in a new Gallup poll, more than two-thirds of Americans agree, saying his predecessor, George W. Bush, deserves either a moderate amount or great deal of the blame.

His campaign says the speech, in Cleveland, and the first in a series, is going to frame the differences between Mr. Obama and Romney on how to grow the economy, drawing a sharp contrast.

But Democrats outside the White House circle are anxious for something more: Many of them want the president to talk about what he would do, and lay out a plan for the future.

Romney will be across the state in Cincinnati, giving a speech at nearly the exact same time.

He took a preemptive swing Wednesday at the president's message, saying, "My own view is that he will speak eloquently, but that words are cheap, and that the record of an individual is the basis upon which you determine whether they should continue to hold onto their job."

That criticism is expected.

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But there is also concern in the president's own party that his economic message in recent months is not connecting with voters.

As one senior Democrat told CBS News, the president needs to say something new, to talk about his agenda for the future.

Another longtime Democratic agrees. Mark Penn has done political strategy and polling for many Democrats, including Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"He needs a new message and a new economic policy," Penn observes, "because the old economic policy and the old economic message just isn't working."

The race is in a statistical dead heat, and a new poll shows Mr. Obama's support slipping in one key demographic that helped him win in 2008 - white men.

"I think he's gotta target soccer dads, suburban men, professional, well-educated ... those professional households where he got basically half the vote last time are actually the ones who are most likely to make the big decision here in this election," Penn points out.

This is Mr. Obama's 21st visit to Ohio since he took office, the most other than New York, where he raises a lot of money, and the nearby states of Maryland and Virginia, which are just a stone's throw from the White House.

To see Bill Plante's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent