Obama Remark Sets Off Weekend Economy Battle


President Obama delivers remarks on the economy in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House Friday. Photo by: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Morning Line
The campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney seem intent on fighting another round of the battle that began Friday when the president said during a White House press conference that “the private sector is doing fine.”

Mr. Obama later sought to walk back his statement, remarking a short time later during an Oval Office appearance that “the economy is not doing fine.” By that point the damage had been done.

Campaigning in Iowa on Friday, Romney called the president’s comment “an extraordinary miscalculation and misunderstanding.”

Sensing an opportunity to attack the president as disconnected on the key issue of the campaign, Team Romney followed up with a Web video on Sunday and another Monday. The latest effort splices together news clips with reaction to May’s disappointing jobs report, then shows the clip of the president saying: “The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government.”

You can watch that video here or below:

For its part the Obama campaign unveiled a new Web video Monday blasting Romney over comments he made contending the president favors job growth through the government rather than the private sector. “He wants another stimulus. He wants to hire more government workers,” Romney said in Iowa on Friday. “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

The Obama campaign video highlights those comments from the presumptive Republican nominee and features testimonials from elected officials in Massachusetts who make the case that Romney slashed teacher, police and firefighter jobs “at rapid rates” during his time as governor.

You can watch that video here or below:

The brouhaha of Friday also spilled over onto the Sunday show airwaves, with the individual at the center of Romney’s Wisconsin argument — Republican Gov. Scott Walker — saying he disagreed with presumptive GOP nominee on CBS’ Face the Nation.

“I think it’s slightly different – I think in our case what they wanted was people willing to take on the tough issues not only here but across the country,” Walker said. “I know in my state our reforms allowed us to protect firefighters, police officers and teachers. That’s not what I think of when I think of big government.”

Karen Tumulty wrote Saturday in the Washington Post that “those six words now stand as Exhibit A in the GOP’s case that, as Obama’s opponent Mitt Romney put it minutes later, the president is ‘detached and out of touch’ on the issue that ranks at the top of voter concerns.”

If the Romney campaign is successful is attaching that label to the president, given the economic struggles many in the country are still feeling, it could be a powerful argument come November. It is clear from the Obama team’s response, however, that this will not be a one-sided fight.

The media’s response to the president’s remark was among the topics Christina tackled in an appearance Sunday on CNN’s Reliable Sources. You can watch that here and here.


On the NewsHour Friday night, Mark Shields and David Brooks debated what the president can do about the economy and how influential what’s happening in Europe might be for the November elections.

David said the crisis across the Atlantic is “the biggest problem in front of us.”

It is quite likely that Greece will leave the euro, which will have a very negative effect on Europe and a negative effect on us, not so much because of our exports, but just because of confidence. … There is a significant possibility, 20, 30, 40 percent, of a complete meltdown across the eurozone. If that happens, if you talk to many economists, you’re looking at a financial crisis worse than 2008. So it’s, A., completely appropriate the president is talking about this, warning people, B., that he is active trying to do something. … So, they are really playing a very dangerous game over there and it’s extremely dangerous for us. So, I think the administration policy is quite good right now. The question is whether it should be more aggressive, really having a public summit with Germany, us, some other countries, and really getting beyond the European political situation and getting us all involved.

As far as the president’s message to Congress about jobs, Mark said any real action isn’t possible this year while Washington is at “loggerheads.”

I think we have now reached a point where we are into symbolic legislating, where we can pass something in the Democratic Senate, but — whether it is an equal pay and equal protection law, and make the other side look bad. And it’s a legitimate piece of legislation, but it is not going to going pass the Republican House. And the Republican house can do its things in cutting taxes or whatever on particular groups or interests. And that isn’t going to go anywhere in the Senate or have the president sign it.

They also squared off on the meaning of the Wisconsin recall election.

Watch the segment here or below:

In the Doubleheader, Christina and the guys chatted about former Sen. Rick Santorum’s decision to open a super PAC and made their Preakness predictions. Christina was right on the money with her top pick this time, hopefully her failed show bet recommendation didn’t cost anyone any money.

Watch the Doubleheader here or below:


The NewsHour’s Allie Morris and Cassie M. Chew attended an event for Senate candidate Tim Kaine in Alexandria, Va., on Friday. Kaine, the former governor, is locked in a tight race with former Gov. George Allen to win the open seat.

They caught Kaine for a quick interview, and chatted with voters after the roundtable. Kaine stressed his budget strategy:

“If you are only cutting, you are making a big mistake. The all-cut approach is a weakening approach, not a strengthening approach. So, what you have to do is find the balance of cuts, but also investment.”

Allen appeared on the Mark Levin radio show ahead of Tuesday’s primary, which he is expected to win by a large margin. He said he wants to be “the deciding vote to repeal Obamacare,” and said electing him would “send a message to President Obama, Tim Kaine and the Washington liberals that we in Virginia want to be in control of our own destinies.”

Allen has been keeping his focus on Kaine despite his rivals on the right, and as his comments suggest, the contest will take on national implications.

This battle is one of the NewsHour Senate Six races to watch and we’ll have more in the months to come.


The pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action and the SEIU are spending $4 million on a slate of attack ads in Spanish that attempt to distance Romney from Hispanic voters.

The group, in its press release, calls the ads one of the largest ever independent Spanish-language campaigns. It’ll hit TV and radio in swing states Colorado, Florida and Nevada.

Both Romney and President Obama’s campaign teams and supporters have engaged in a number of campaigns lately to court Hispanic voters. They’ve issued Spanish language ads and expanded their staffs to target the key demographic. Still, many have noted that Hispanic voters don’t votes as a bloc, and don’t seem to be registering or voting in large numbers.

Almost all the attacks use a select pair of Romney sound bites — such as “I’ll also tell my story: I’m also unemployed” or “You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus” — to prompt comment from Hispanic Americans. The ads are called “Mitt Romney: En Sus Propias Palabras,” or “Mitt Romney: In His Own Words.”

Here’s the spot in Nevada, and a page that collects the other ads:

Eliseo Medina, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer, gives the overview: “Latinos say they are insulted and angry when they watch Romney, a multi-millionaire with a couple Cadillacs, joke about his ‘unemployment’ status. When Latinos hear Romney, in his own words, they really know what’s going on and what he is saying … If elected President, Mitt Romney’s policies would be devastating to Latino families.”


  • Gwen Ifill looks at the succession of distractions that have marked the presidential campaigns in her latest blog post.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder has assigned two U.S. attorneys to lead separate criminal investigations into the release of national security secrets to the news media. A series of New York Times scoops have highlighted the president’s war strategies, particularly with cyberattacks.
  • Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told Fox News Sunday that he rejected the president’s claims that the leaks did not come from the White House. Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC News that the leaks did not originate from the White House.
  • Statewide unemployment rates might not be in line with the national numbers and could help Mr. Obama, writes the Associated Press.
  • What Obama would do in his second term is the subject of a long form story by the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza.
  • The Guardian explores Anna Wintour’s relationship with the president’s campaign and asks, Will an ambassador’s job be her reward?
  • The Daily Beast reports from Providence about the “complicated” relationship between the Obama administration and netroots activists.
  • CPAC Chicago attendees chose Sen. Marco Rubio as their favorite veep choice for Romney in The Washington Times’ straw poll Friday.
  • Politico rounds up 10 tweets from New York Giants players who were honored at the White House Friday.
  • Gwen interviewed the president for the July issue of Essence Magazine that will be hitting newsstands soon.
  • Amber Lee Ettinger has outgrown her very public “Crush on Obama,” the Daily Caller reports.



Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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