Well, that didn’t take long.
President Obama this afternoon walked back his comment from this morning in which he stated that “the private sector is doing fine,” amending it by saying the “economy is not doing fine” and revising it into an assertion that there is “some good momentum in the private sector.”
It’s no use. If Obama loses the election, today’s contention that all is well in the private sector will go down as one of the mistakes that helped usher him out the White House door.
Obama was already widely under fire for the statement, including from Mitt Romney, who said the president was “defining what it means to be detached and out of touch with the American people.”
Obama was asked about Romney’s comment after he and Philippine President Aquino had finished their post-meeting statements to the press.
I’m not sure how this went down, but the White House was clearly expecting the question and had prepared Obama to respond. Obama almost NEVER takes questions after these little remarks with foreign leaders.
Obama pretended that as usual he didn’t want any questions, saying “All right, thank you everybody,” the signal for reporters to get out. At that point, one of them blurted out:
Mr. President, Mitt Romney says you’re out of touch for saying the private sector is doing fine. What’s your response?
Obama was ready with a detailed response showing as much “in touchness” as he possibly could without saying he was presiding over an economic disaster.
Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s the reason I had the press conference.
The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater . . .
Now, I think if you look at what I said this morning and what I’ve been saying consistently over the last year, we’ve actually seen some good momentum in the private sector . . . And so that has not been the biggest drag on the economy . . .
I believe that there are a lot of Americans who are hurting right now, which is what I’ve been saying for the last year, two years, three years, what I’ve been saying since I came into office.
As George H.W. Bush once put it, on the way to his own reelection defeat, “Message: I care!”