Presidential politics reignites in Sandy's wake

By Steve Peoples

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Romney's criticism of Obama's secretary of business idea, raised during an interview this week on MSNBC, was echoed by Ryan, who said the post is already filled. "It's actually called secretary of commerce," Ryan said in Greeley, Colo. "That's what this agency does. Let me ask you a question: Can anybody name our current secretary of commerce? You know why? We don't have one. It's been vacant for over four months and the president hasn't even proposed to put somebody in the job. "

John Bryson resigned as Commerce secretary in June after he said a seizure caused him to get into a car accident.

The Romney-Ryan campaign also launched a new ad on the issue. "His solution to everything is to add another bureaucrat," the ad says, then touts Romney's business experience as evidence that he would do a better job improving the economy.

The ad doesn't mention that Obama floated the idea as a way to consolidate nine agencies dealing with business concerns and eliminate bureaucracy. It also ignored a growing body of positive economic indicators that continued to emerge Thursday — unemployment benefit claims down, worker productivity up, auto sales rising, home builders increasing construction, manufacturing expansion, gains in retail sales and consumer confidence at the highest level since a year before Obama took office.

October's jobs figures, the last broad snapshot of the economy before the election, were to be released Friday.

The Obama campaign released a new TV ad touting former Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent endorsement, and another blasting Romney's claim that auto companies are shipping jobs to China. "GM calls Romney's ads 'politics at its cynical worst,' and Chrysler's CEO said it's simply not true," says a narrator. The ad will air in Michigan and Ohio — two competitive states where auto politics have been front and center.

Mitt Romney's campaign also began quietly running a Spanish-language ad in Florida that tries to tie Obama to notorious Latin American leaders. The ad, first reported by The Miami Herald, is airing at least in the Miami area.

It shows a clip of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saying that if he were American, "I'd vote for Obama." Chavez did say that in September, when he also called Obama "a good guy." There's a similar clip featuring Cuban leader Fidel Castro's niece Mariela, who has no official link to the Cuban government. She's a noted advocate of gay rights and has praised Obama's stand in support of same sex marriage.

Pickler contributed to this report from Washington. Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Green Bay, Wis.; Josh Lederman and Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington; Philip Elliott in Greeley, Colo., Matthew Daly in Davenport, Iowa; Beth Fouhy in New York; and Kasie Hunt in Roanoke, Va., contributed to this report.

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