Obama Campaign Still Running from Private Sector 'Fine' Comment

Monday, 11 Jun 2012 12:07 PM

By Greg McDonald

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President Barack Obama’s campaign is still trying to clean up the mess he made last Friday when he said the “private sector is doing fine” after being asked about the nation’s economic situation at a White House press conference.

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod on Monday tried to brush off the comment as a simple mistake that most Americans believe was just a bungled answer that’s been taken out of context by Republicans and the Mitt Romney campaign.

“Oh that again,” Axelrod said, dismissing a question about the statement during an appearance on CBS’s “This Morning.”

Axelrod then tried to draw attention to a Romney comment suggesting the nation doesn’t need to hire more teachers, policemen or firemen.

Campaign officials were also asked about the president’s statement on CNN, but tried to deflect it by noting that Romney’s answer to the nation’s problem is “fire more people.”

In an attempt to get away for the issue, the Obama campaign has released a new ad attacking the former Massachusetts governor as a jobs killer, charging that tightening budgets in the state forced the layoffs of teachers and other public employees when he was governor from 2003 to 2007.

But the Romney campaign weighed in with its own ad on Monday showing the president making his statement at the White House, despite new jobless reports showing an increase in unemployment for May.

“Has there ever been a president so out of touch with the middle class?’ the ad concluded.

Even Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was critical of the president’s comment.

“That was an unfortunate line — I mean, the president bungled the line,” Krugman said on CBS’s “This Morning,” noting that the “the private sector is doing better than the public sector, which is not well enough.”

“And actually the real story about this economy is that cutbacks at the public sector are hurting recovery,” Krugman said, making a point that Obama sought to make on Friday.

“The private sector is doing fine,” the president said then. “Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy has to do with state and local governments.”

“By this point in Obama’s presidency, if we had normal public sector job growth, we’d have 800,000 more people — firefighters, school teachers, police officers,” Krugman continued. “Instead, we’ve got 600,000 fewer. So right there it’s like 1.4 million jobs that we should have had in the public sector and of course, those would translate into more private sector jobs too. So, that’s what [Obama] was trying to get at and of course, he screwed up the line.”


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