White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today said President Obama can and should be reelected even if the economy fails to improve.
Carney spoke in response to a question at the White House briefing by Jake Tapper of ABC News, who noted today’s employment report, which showed that hiring continues to lag. Carney said Obama should win because the election will be about his vision for the future.
TAPPER: Can he get reelected if the economy is not significantly improved and does he deserve to?
CARNEY: Yes, and here’s why: because what the election will be about is whose vision for America’s future is best, whose ideas for moving America forward are best. And what we confidently believe is that the American people will see in President Obama’s view for the future the right answers.
What we also believe is that if the Republican nominee, once he or she emerges, runs on the proposals that have been generated so far, which are essentially mirror images — not mirror images but exact replications of the policies that got us into this mess, the American people won’t think that is the right answer.
Carney’s statement contradicts Obama’s own prediction about his reelection chances, according to which the president has until February 2012 to fix the economy or be denied a second term.
“I will be held accountable,” Obama told NBC’s Matt Lauer on Feb. 1, 2009. “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
But most economists now believe that economic growth will remain sluggish at best through 2012, with some chance that the economy will actually slip back into recession. So the Obama campaign has begun framing the election as a contest between the “values” of Republicans and Democrats instead of a referendum on Obama’s economic record.
Carney’s response to Tapper fits with the new emphasis in Obama’s campaign remarks on his vision of America’s character and future, which the president has been contrasting in sometimes harsh terms with that of Republicans.