Politics has certainly never been beanbag in South Carolina, so it is fitting South Carolina is the state where former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman first blatantly took off his gloves against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
According to CNN’s Peter Hamby, one of the nation’s best reporters, especially when it comes to South Carolina, Huntsman criticized Romney’s record of job creation at a campaign event yesterday in the Palmetto State:
“When you look at the absolute increases in job creation, Utah led the way in the United States in terms of job creation … That, compared and contrasted with certain other states like Massachusetts, which I will just pull out randomly, not first, but 47th.”
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams later countered Huntsman’s claims in a statment: “Mitt Romney created nearly 50,000 jobs as governor of Massachusetts and led his state to one of the most dramatic job market turnarounds in the country.”
Not so fast, says the Huntsman team.
“You know your job creation record is bad when you brag about leapfrogging a state ravaged by Hurricane Katrina,” Huntsman Press Secretary Tim Miller said. “The reality is Mitt Romney’s record on job creation was abysmal by every standard. Governor Huntsman will run on his record of cutting taxes, reducing regulation, and passing free market health care which resulted in Utah becoming the #1 state for job creation.”
The facts are on Huntsman’s side. According to Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch, during the time Romney was governor of Massachusetts from January 2003 to January 2007, the U.S. Labor Department ranked Massachusetts 47th in the nation in jobs growth.
The only states that did worse were Ohio, Michigan and Louisiana. Or, according to Arends, “two rustbelt states and another that lost its biggest city to a hurricane.”
Further, in Romney’s first year in office, Massachusetts ranked last in job creation.
In contrast, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Huntsman’s first two years in office in Utah, Utah created 107, 843 jobs compared to the 51,362 jobs created in Massachusetts during four years of Romney’s tenure.
In other words, Utah, in two years under Huntsman, doubled the number of jobs created under four years of Romney in Massachusetts.
Romney leads in fundraising and in most polls, particularly in New Hampshire. In order for Huntsman to catch Romney, he will have to draw sharp contrasts between Romney’s record in Massachusetts and his in Utah.
Because of the disparity in the number of jobs created in Utah and Massachusetts, Miller said “we assume Mitt Romney will continue to run away from his record.”