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Main arguments GOP laying out against Obama at RNC, Democrats' comebacks

By Connie Cass

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 28 2012 5:41 p.m. MDT

Ann Romney, wife of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, looks over the main stage during a sound check at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012.

Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

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WASHINGTON — Republicans have been building their case against the "failed presidency" of Barack Obama for nearly four years and this week's convention is prime time for making the charges stick.

They'll assail Obama on a multitude of fronts large and small during the Republican National Convention in hopes of reaching the widest swath of voters. But the biggest complaints are being repeated over and over to drive them home as the race to Nov. 6 takes off in earnest.

A look at the main arguments the GOP is laying out against Obama in Florida this week, and the Democrats' comebacks:

RECKLESSLY ADDED TO THE NATIONAL DEBT

The case:

The convention comes complete with visual aids to drive home the Republicans' message about the nation's debt, currently about $15.9 trillion and growing. As delegates count down to nominee Mitt Romney's speech Thursday night, two "debt clocks" ticks higher. Party Chairman Reince Priebus says they were installed "to remind America of Obama's fiscal recklessness."

This year's budget deficit is expected to top $1 trillion for the fourth straight year. Republicans say that not only has Obama made the problem worse with billions in stimulus spending, he's also failed to provide the leadership necessary for budget cutting.

The counterargument:

Romney hasn't put forward a concrete plan for reducing the deficit, either. As president, his efforts to do so would be complicated by his promises to lower income tax rates across the board, increase military spending and protect Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees. Romney has said he would use tax changes and deep, wide-ranging spending cuts, but hasn't given any details. Whatever cuts he has in mind, getting them through Congress would be tough.

FAILED TO BRING BACK JOBS

The case:

Republicans say Obama has presided over a devastatingly slow recovery from the Great Recession, pointing to painfully sluggish job growth as Exhibit A. The unemployment rate hovers above 8 percent, and that doesn't count Americans forced to settle for work that doesn't pay enough to cover their bills. College graduates are having trouble finding jobs; young people without degrees have it even worse. Republicans point to Obama's declaration that "the private sector is doing fine" to argue that he doesn't understand the depths of people's despair.

"Our economy is stagnant," says former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, chairman of the convention's rules committee. "Our vitality has been sapped."

The counterargument:

The White House says that "doing fine" quote was taken out of context, from a speech in which Obama was comparing layoffs of teachers, police officers and other government workers to hiring among private businesses. And Obama argues that his stimulus and other efforts rescued the economy from what could have snowballed into a full-scale depression.

WANTS TO HAND OUT MORE WELFARE

The case:

The Obama administration decided to allow states to ask permission to bypass some federal welfare rules; Republicans say that ignores requirements that states try to put welfare recipients to work. Cash assistance to the poor is mainly conditioned on work.

The counterargument:

The Obama administration says it doesn't want to waive work requirements, just to give states the chance to get out from under some federal administrative rules, including those that tie up state caseworkers who could be serving clients. The administration said it would only approve those waivers that would move more people from welfare to work.

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