Six Words From Obama, and a Barrage in Return From the G.O.P.
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.
From The Washington Post:
It would be hard to imagine a greater gift than the sound bite that Barack Obama handed to Republicans on Friday: “The private sector is doing fine.”
At a moment when the president is struggling to connect with the economic anxieties of the American public, that statement is likely to show up again and again in attack ads, conservative commentary and Republican stump speeches between now and November.
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.
Republicans know well how toxic and corrosive one such remark can be. In 2008, their own nominee, John McCain, never recovered from his declaration that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong,” even as the financial system was melting down that September. And it was then-candidate Obama who had mocked him: “Senator, what economy are you talking about?”