Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- At a time when Americans consider the lackluster Obama economy to be the No. 1 issue facing the country, Rick Santorum this week was suggesting that other issues deserve equal treatment.

That may be OK for those who have a secure job and have never been unemployed. However, most Americans, according to all the polls, still rate the economy and jobs at the top of their list of major concerns.

Yet there was former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum on Monday in the final 24-hour run-up to the Super Tuesday primaries dismissively asking, What's with all this focus on the economy?

Suggesting that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was a Johnny-one-note on the economy's troubles, Santorum told a few hundred people at the Dayton Christian School in Miamisburg, Ohio, that there were other important problems facing the country, "not just how we're going to manage the economy better."

"This country is more than just the economy," he said in a state whose economy has been struggling for years, and where the unemployment rate is at least 8 percent.

Where has Santorum been living in the past four years? In a cave? Is that the campaign line he's going to run on if he should be the GOP's presidential nominee?

Romney has been focused like a laser beam on the issue that polls show is President Obama's weakest: the lackluster, job-challenged economy. He has not only focused on its weakness, but has also compared his lifelong business career creating jobs to Santorum's political career in Congress, where he rarely talked about jobs because he was too busy leading the charge on social, cultural and religious issues.

"The economy is what I do, it's what I know, it's what I've done. I haven't just debated about it. I haven't just talked about it on subcommittees. I've actually done it -- started businesses, run businesses. I know how to do it," Romney said Monday.

If anything, his speeches in recent weeks have doubled down on economic issues as he related stories of how he has taken small start-up businesses like Staples and turned them into successful global enterprises and major job creators.

He knows what has been killing jobs in this economy: excessive taxation that erodes a business's bottom line; government mandates that heap punishing new costs on small businesses; the failure to open up new export markets for U.S. products overseas; and a massive, inefficient tax code and a jungle of regulations that impede innovation, risk-taking and investment.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.