As misery goes, Ryan King appears to be pretty deep in it in the new Mitt Romney video that slams President Barack Obama’s economic stewardship through the story of a struggling, seemingly unemployed college graduate.
“Frustration is the big word,” Ryan says as somber music plays and hard-scrabble images roll by of Midland, Mich. “Anything that I’m qualified for, you know, that people are looking for, they also want experience. And I mean because of the economy and the way it is, there are so many people that are looking for jobs, at the same time my hands are tied, how can I get experience if no one is going to hire me in?”
Now, Michigan is clearly struggling more than most states, though economic conditions have improved since the crash. (Michigan can take some solace in the fact that Romney wasn’t president in 2009 — it’s when he called for letting Detroit “go bankrupt.”)
But there’s a more subtle problem with the new attack ad, irrespective of Romney trying to blame President Obama for Ryan King’s unemployment. In this case, Ryan King isn’t unemployed at all.
Though the commercial features King saying he “can’t get a job,” it turns out the young man is a recent graduate of a public university (Republicans want to cut higher-ed funding, too), and actually got a job shortly before appearing in the attack ad.
Indeed, the Romney’s campaign’s model for all that is wrong with the Obama administration had a job while in college, and less than a month after receiving a degree, King accepted a job offer. Though he reportedly no longer works for that company, King has moved on to another job.
A month later, fully employed, King appeared in a Romney ad, blaming the president for the fact that “no one is going to hire” him and he “can’t get a job.” He even told Facebook friends, the day after the filming, “Off to work for the day.”
Perhaps the most relevant difference between Ryan King and Mitt Romney is that Ryan King works for a living.
The same spot suggests the young man is just another down-on-his-luck Michigander, but there’s more to his background than that. As Greg Sargent noted, “In 2009, King was identified in the local press as the vice treasurer for the Midland County Young Republicans. He seems to have been a local Republican activist since; his Facebook page shows him partying away at the 2011 state GOP convention.”
Obviously, Michigan is burdened with chronically high unemployment. But that makes the misleading ad even stranger: the Romney campaign couldn’t find an unemployed person in Michigan willing to be in the commercial? If Romney’s best example of a struggling Michigander is a fully employed graduate of a public university, doesn’t that make Obama’s record look better, not worse?