WASHINGTON - Former governor Mitt Romney returns from his overseas trip this week to resume talking about a four-letter word that's been missing from Barack Obama's vocabulary: jobs.
His trip abroad hit some bumps in the road, but nothing of any consequence that's going to become an issue in a campaign that is totally fixated on Obama's recession-teetering economy.
While Romney was gone, the nation's barely breathing economic growth rate slowed to virtually comatose levels -- 1.5 percent in the second quarter with bleaker forecasts for the next three months in the 1 percent range.
Life in Obama's economy, now in its fourth year, is going to get worse. The Labor Department's report this Friday is expected to continue an unbroken string of puny monthly jobs numbers that will keep unemployment rates above 8 percent for the rest of this year and next.
While the nightly network news shows devote their airtime to the occasional irrelevant gaffe, voters were worried about more important things -- like finding jobs or holding on to the ones they have amid talk of impending layoffs and declining incomes.
This week, the Gallup Poll released a revealing survey of which issues concern Americans the most. Incredibly, none of them draw much attention on the nightly news or from Obama's campaign.
At the top of the voters' list of priorities: creating jobs, reducing corruption in the federal government, and four straight years of $1 trillion-plus budget deficits. Make that five years. It was announced this week that Obama's budget deficit will be over $1 trillion in 2013.
What are the issues at the bottom of the voters' priority list? Global climate change and raising taxes on wealthier Americans -- the two issues that the network news shows and Obama's campaign spend a lot of time talking about.
The American people must shake their heads in dismay at the often-nebulous network news menu that is dished up each night -- carefully avoiding any issues that might make Obama look bad.
Tens of millions of Americans are suffering from Obama's economy. The Gallup poll proved that Tuesday in a new nationwide survey that delivered another dose of bad news to the White House.
"Americans' confidence in the economy declined last week to -29, matching levels not seen since early January," Gallup reported. Republicans' and independents' confidence levels are at their lowest of 2012.
The economy is now clearly in a nosedive and all Mitt Romney has to do is convince a majority of Americans -- especially in the battleground states -- that he knows how to put America on a faster growth track to begin making jobs plentiful again at all income levels.