Ed Gillespie, a top adviser to Mitt Romney, was on the phone with reporters Monday ticking off a list of troubling economic indicators that he said would spell disaster for any incumbent president, from high jobless numbers to a ballooning federal budget deficit.
But few in the media showed any interest in Gillespie's talking points. The story dominating that presidential campaign trail that day wasn't about how bad things looked for President Obama. The buzz was about how bad things have turned for Romney.
Amid reports that the Republican nominee's campaign was in disarray, a videotape released by the liberal Mother Jones news organization showed Romney telling supporters that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent on government" and "believe they are victims."
Romney backers blame liberal media bias, but they also blame Romney, whose public comments have been backfiring on him. Last week, Romney's message on the economy was overshadowed by his criticism of Obama's handling of the killing of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Libya.
"I think they've definitely gotten in the way of their own messaging," said Matt Robbins, executive director of American Majority Action, a conservative grassroots organization trying to unseat Obama.
But Republicans also complain that Obama is being given a pass by the media on stories that would show him in a bad light, including his failure to right the economy and reports that the administration had been warned in advance about the Libyan attack that killed four U.S. diplomats.
"Obama is not getting very much attention at all right now, which is pretty stunning given all that is happening," Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak told The Washington Examiner.
GOP strategists and conservatives said they expect the latest furor over Romney's remarks to fade, much as it did in 2008, when then-candidate Obama was overheard saying that rural voters "cling to their guns or religion." Romney can put the episode behind him, they said, if he re-establishes his focus on Obama's economic failures, something Romney's campaign said he intends to do.
A Romney aide told The Examiner on Tuesday that as part of that effort to get back to the economy, Romney is releasing a new campaign ad about how the nation's soaring debt has reduced household incomes under Obama. The aide called it "a big part of our message this week."
But even Democrats admit that with the attention focused on Romney's troubles, Obama is mostly getting a pass.
"Romney promised to focus like a laser on the economy, but he has barely spoken of it and, in fact, keeps pulling attention from it," Democratic strategist Christopher Hahn told The Examiner. "It's almost as if Romney decided he doesn't want to be president."
Robbins said that despite media coverage sparing Obama any criticism, voters are well aware that the economy is in trouble, and that doesn't help the president's re-election prospects.
"I don't think you need to point out to folks that things are really bad," Robbins said.