Checking the RNC ad 'welcoming' Obama to Scranton
As President Barack Obama headed to Scranton, Pa., to push for an extension of a payroll tax break on Nov. 30, 2011, the Republican National Committee released a 30-second Web video criticizing him for the economy’s performance on his watch.
The ad aired audio clips of a candidate Obama visit to Scranton on March 31, 2008, when he was engaged in a tight primary battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. As the ad shows images of shuttered factories, Obama talks about the nation’s economic difficulties. Several phrases appear on the screen:
"In 2008 … he promised Pennsylvanians hope & change … Today: Unemployment up 19% … 37,900 Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs lost … 189,000 more Pennsylvanians in poverty … Failed promises. Change direction."
We found that the ad got all of its numbers right, but it overreached by holding Obama fully accountable for these trends. They stemmed from many other forces beyond just the president’s policies.
In particular, the RNC’s manufacturing jobs statistic ignored both a decades-long national and state decline in manufacturing jobs and the fact that the rate of manufacturing job losses in Pennsylvania during Obama’s presidency was slower than the rate of job losses under his predecessor, George W. Bush. On balance, we rated the claim Half True.