- Posted June 11, 2012 by
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The Obama Roundup - June 10th
In case you missed it, here is the latest Roundup of news about President Barack Obama.
The Week He Wishes Wasn't:
President Obama's bad week included weak jobs numbers, the Wisconsin recall vote, less-than-helpful comments by Bill Clinton, and his own verbal gaffe. Obama has the edge in most polls, but there could be more bad weeks between now and the presidential election.
In what looks to be a historically contentious campaign season, there’s at least one point on which there’s no argument: The past week was particularly bad for President Obama – a “terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week,” as the headline over Chris Cillizza’s “The Fix” blog at the Washington Post puts it.
Look at what happened: Lousy employment numbers report (just 69,000 jobs created in May and unemployment ticking up to 8.2 percent); failed recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin (a major blow to unions, a key part of the Democratic base); Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee raising a lot more money last month than Obama and the Democratic National Committee; Bill Clinton – again – going off-message on a key point Obama’s been trying to make (end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy).
Then, at week’s end, there was Obama’s own major gaffe now chiseled in stone in GOP campaign ads – his off-hand declaration that “The private sector is doing fine.” – which the normally well-scripted Obama had to quickly walk back.
Meanwhile, press accounts of Obama’s tough-mindedness and direct involvement in fighting terrorism became a dispute over whether the White House had leaked sensitive national security information in order to boost the President’s image. Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress are asking critical questions.
The European Headache:
The threat of further economic turmoil in Europe threatens the U.S. economy, President Barack Obama said Friday in urging European leaders to enact plans to stabilize their economies.
Congress should adopt a jobs plan and other economic legislation to help counter economic "headwinds" from Europe holding back U.S. economic recovery, Obama said.
Europe's economic crisis could send shock waves roaring across the Atlantic that would drag down the fragile U.S. economy and threaten President Barack Obama's hopes for a second term. The president demonstrated Friday just how deeply he's worried about that — and how little he can do to prevent it.
Obama used an impromptu news conference to prod European leaders to quickly deal with their crisis. Along with that rare cross-Atlantic jawboning, he accused congressional Republicans at home of holding back a U.S. rebound.
Obama held forth, unprompted, on what European leaders could and should do to fix their economic woes, though he insisted he was not "scolding them or telling them what to do."
"Now, the good news is there is a path out of this challenge," Obama said. "These decisions are fundamentally in the hands of Europe's leaders, and, fortunately, they understand the seriousness of the situation and the urgent need to act."
Along with a recommendation that Europe inject much-needed money into its banking system, he said European leaders must focus on economic growth and job creation, not just "cutting and cutting and cutting" to deal with debt problems. That's the same point he is trying to make to Congress — and to voters — back home.
Can I Have a Do-Over?:
With good reason, presidents have long been said to hold the power of the bully pulpit. But when President Obama sought to wield it on Friday, by calling a White House news conference to showcase his concern for the economy and Republicans’ refusal to work with him, he was the one who ended up getting pummeled.
By late afternoon, Mr. Obama was forced to clarify one line from his morning session with reporters — “the private sector is doing fine” — after Congressional Republicans and his presidential rival, Mitt Romney, had seized on the comment to criticize Mr. Obama as out-of-touch and detached from the millions of Americans who cannot find jobs or have given up looking.
“Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s the reason I had the press conference,” Mr. Obama said in clarifying his earlier remark when asked about Mr. Romney’s criticism during an Oval Office appearance with the president of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III.
“There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater,” Mr. Obama said. “And that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.” He ended, “What I’m interested in hearing from Congress and Mr. Romney is what steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference. And so far, all we’ve heard are additional tax cuts to the folks who are doing fine.”
But for the day at least, the damage was done, as Republicans hijacked the news cycle with their barrage against Mr. Obama’s six words in a professorial 29-minute exchange.
President Barack Obama, walking back his assertion at a press conference the "private sector's doing fine," acknowledged Friday that "it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine."
The struggling economy, he clarified, is "why I had the press conference."
"That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this part month, this past year talking about how we can make this economy stronger," Obama said in the Oval Office.
On defense over the defining issue of his reelection fight, President Barack Obama clarified Friday that "the economy is not doing fine" and accused Republicans of playing "political games" by turning his own earlier words against him.
Obama had triggered the onslaught a few hours beforehand by telling reporters that "the private sector is doing fine" and that "where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy" is in cash-strapped states and cities that are cutting jobs for teachers, firefighters, police and other workers.
"And one of the things that people get so frustrated about is that instead of actually talking about what would help, we get wrapped up in these political games. That's what we need to put an end to," he said. (One little problem there: The Obama campaign of 2008 had happily turned Republican Senator John McCain's similar goof against him in an ad. The RNC mimicked that commercial on Friday.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said that while corporate profits are strong and companies have been adding jobs, small businesses are having a tough time getting financing and other pockets of the economy need more attention.
He repeated his view, expressed earlier on Friday in a press conference, that budget-pinched state and local governments need help to avoid teacher and police layoffs, and that Congress should help buoy struggling homeowners and construction workers who remain out of work several years after the financial crisis.
Obama, asked about Romney's response, accused Republicans of lacking ideas of how to help the U.S. economy fully recover.
"What steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference? So far, all we have heard are additional tax cuts for the folks who are doing well," he said.
Muddying the Waters:
While President Barack Obama walked back his remarks last week and said it was "absolutely clear" that the economy, in fact, was "not doing fine," his campaign's senior adviser on Sunday had a hard time making the same concession.
Asked repeatedly about the president's initial comments, in which Obama said Friday the private sector was "doing fine" compared to the public sector, David Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the private sector certainly needs more jobs but did not go as far as mirroring the president's clarification on the state of the economy.
Pressed by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on whether the administration really believes the private sector is fine, Axelrod continued to point to the need for more public sector jobs.
"We need to accelerate job creation in the private sector. One of the ways that we can do that is putting teachers and fire fighters and police back to work because those are good middle class jobs," Axelrod said.
An Apple for Teacher:
President Obama urged Congress – again – to pass his $450 billion American Jobs Act to shore up public sector jobs, particularly some 250,000 teaching positions lost in the last three years.
While downplaying a remark Friday that the US private sector is “doing fine,” President Obama nevertheless focused on stalwarts of the public sector – teachers – for his weekly Saturday address, saying Washington has to spend more to help states re-hire laid-off teachers.
“There are plenty of steps we can take, right now, to strengthen our economy. Putting teachers back in our kids’ classrooms is one of those steps,” Obama said. “And there’s no excuse for inaction. You work hard. Your leaders should, too. Especially at this make-or-break moment for the middle class.”
In his weekly radio address, President Obama today called on Congress to provide aid to states to rehire laid off teachers and prevent further layoffs.
He said that in "Pennsylvania alone, there are 9,000 fewer educators in our schools today than just a year ago. In Ohio, the number is close to 7,000. And nationwide, over the past three years, school districts have lost over 250,000 educators.
"Think about what that means for our country," he said. "When there are fewer teachers in our schools, class sizes start climbing up. Our students start falling behind. And our economy takes a hit."
President Obama urged Congress on Saturday to renew federal money for local governments so that they can avoid layoffs of teachers.
"In 2009 and in 2010, we provided aid to states to help keep hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom," Obama said in the weekly radio address. "But we need to do more."
Aid to states and local governments -- for police and firefighter jobs, as well as teachers -- is a key to the jobs program that is Obama is pushing to address the slumping economy.
What Did You Say, Governor?:
Just as former president Bill Clinton gives President Obama's campaign some heartburn, along comes former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.
Rendell told CNN last night he's not sure Obama will beat Republican Mitt Romney in November and suggested the president is running too negative a campaign.
"I'm not sure he's going to win," Rendell said. "He should win. He has got the best plans for turning the economy around. And I think he's done a good job."
5 States Decides It All:
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the first White House chief of staff in the Obama administration, says he expects the presidential race to be a "close election" in November.
"I think it's going to come down to a handful of states. ... It's five states, 500 precincts. That's what I believe," Emanuel said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."
Emanuel didn't elaborate on the exact states he had in mind but emphasized the election would come down to which candidate could best appeal to major groups across those battlegrounds.
"Who is going to fight for who in that Oval Office?" Emanuel asked, pointing to differences in President Barack Obama's and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's positions on the auto and financial industries and the housing crisis.
From the Cornfield, in case you missed it on your favorite news channel, news site or newspaper, that is the latest Obama Roundup