The White House’s top political adviser, downplaying the significance of the unemployment rate in the 2012 election, said the Republican candidates are offering the same policies that caused the economic crisis and targeted one potential opponent — Mitt Romney.

“So all of them are basically just bringing out the same old war horses,” senior adviser David Plouffe said yesterday at a Bloomberg Breakfast in Washington. “Let Wall Street kind of run amok, cut taxes for the wealthy, starve investment in things like education, research and development.”

Plouffe, who ran Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, previewed the arguments the president and his team will sound 16 months before an election that could be a referendum on Obama’s handling of the economy. While history has shown the unemployment rate to be a leading indicator of an incumbent’s success, Plouffe said Americans won’t base their votes on it.

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