The Blade article, penned by Tony Cook, zeroed in not on what Romney and Santorum are talking about, but what they aren’t—the housing crisis. Cook starts by paying close attention to the candidates’ rhetoric:
Attend a speech by Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum and you’re likely to hear all kinds of claims about the economy — gas prices are too high, deficit spending is out of control, and government regulations are hindering free enterprise.
But as the two leading Republican candidates crisscross Ohio and Michigan, an odd omission has emerged in their speeches. Neither has mentioned the housing crisis.
Mr. Santorum didn’t mention the foreclosure crisis during Ohio speeches in Columbus, Akron, and Georgetown, either.
Mr. Romney also has avoided the issue during recent appearances in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Monroe, and Shelby Township, Michigan.
That seems a noteworthy omission since Michigan, which holds its primary Tuesday, has the fifth highest foreclosure rate in the country, while Ohio ranks 12th.
The silence may result from the candidates’ taking their signals from GOP primary voters. Cook does a good job exploring the underlying reasoning, first with insight from Don Haurin, an Ohio State University economist.
In wooing their Republican base, the two front-runners are emphasizing their conservative credentials. That means an emphasis on fewer government regulations and less intervention in the free market. That message doesn’t do much to reassure those who have lost their homes or are facing foreclosure, Mr. Haurin said.
“You’re telling them there’s no help and that’s not going to win you any votes,” he said.
Cook follows that gem up with a quote from Eric Herzik, chairman of the political science department at the University of Nevada-Reno: “The easy answer to why Republican candidates don’t talk about this is they don’t have any type of solution. You can say it’s tough love, but it’s not the 30-second sound bite you want.”
The response from the Republican candidates, of course, is that they’re not offering a targeted housing solution, but focusing instead on the overall economy. Cook’s article gives the campaigns room to make that argument, as it should.
But that, in turn, means those broader economic plans are even more important—and more deserving of coverage. Ohio’s press corps should provide it.