Given that Mitt Romney is the apparent frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, it’s often surprising how awful his campaign really is.

The former Massachusetts governor was in central Ohio, visiting a rock-crushing-equipment factory called Screen Machine Industries. As Romney argued, the business would be thriving if it weren’t for that rascally President Obama and his liberal agenda.


[I]t’s been the government — and Obama’s policies in particular — that has helped propel Screen Machine’s growth at its sprawling new headquarters here, even during the recession. The company, which builds heavy-duty crushing and screening machines used in construction, mining and recycling, received four stimulus awards totaling $218,607. It is also benefiting from a 10-year deal with local and state governments to not pay taxes on its property, equipment or inventory, according to public records.

And Screen Machine, which is expanding its global sales, recently won a federal contract to deliver its machines to Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.

I see. So, Romney would have us believe the federal government is holding Screen Machine Industries back and preventing it from growing. In reality, the federal government in general, and the president’s agenda in particular, is boosting Screen Machine Industries and helping it thrive.

And that’s just under Obama. This same company received government aid — from federal, state, and municipal agencies — seven years ago to help expand its Ohio headquarters.

Remember, Mitt Romney considers Screen Machine Industries an example of government intervention hurting the private sector.

What’s more, this keeps coming up. Romney recently visited a closed-down facility in Pennsylvania, and inadvertently made the case in support of Obama’s agenda. Soon after, he traveled to a dilapidated California shopping center, without realizing the project failed before Obama took office, and was actually shut down by a major Romney donor.

Has Romney not hired a research staff? How about an advance team? The former governor can take some solace in the fact that the political world’s focus is on Capitol Hill right now, not on the GOP presidential candidates, or his campaign’s striking incompetence might be a much bigger problem.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.