TAPPER: Only about a third of the American people think that the president is doing enough on the economy; two-thirds don't. Are they wrong?
GIBBS: I'd — I'd — I wouldn't question that that's what they told your pollster, and that they're right in telling them that. I would say this. Having — coming here to work every day, that the president works each and every day on making our economy stronger and putting us in a position to where we're creating jobs, businesses are hiring again, we have that new foundation that is built on something like the clean energy jobs of the future. All that takes up every — a little bit of every part of his day.
Now, again, whether — whether we have to do a better job making sure people understand that, we certainly bear that responsibility. But I could certainly assure the American people that that is the chief focus of the president of the United States.
TAPPER: With the economy just now, and yesterday when I asked you about health care reform, it seems like the White House thinks that the issue of disconnect that the American people have with the White House in terms of the disapproval of the president's handling of the economy and health care reform is not that you're doing anything wrong, but that you are not communicating effectively. Am I understanding that correctly?
GIBBS: Well, no, no. I mean, look, do I think we have done — I don't — I'm not saying that's the only thing by any means. I would certainly, again, take my share of the responsibility as I'm sure many would in ensuring that people had a clearer idea of what the president is doing each day on that.
You know, look, we — some of this is not dissimilar to when you go back to the last really deep recession and you look at the president's approval ratings for Ronald Reagan during '81 and '82. I mean, there, you know — it is not surprising to anybody here, and I doubt surprising to anybody in the country that there's anger and frustration with 10 percent of the American people unemployed. And when you add in those that are unemployed but have stopped looking because they've been unemployed for so long, that number only gets greater.
So, again, I think you'd hear the president say quite clearly that he is among those that are frustrated. We all want to see us get our economy back on track faster. The president believes that we have taken some necessary, if at times unpopular steps to do so.
You don't get credit for taking those steps and pulling — you don't get credit for what would have happened, which is fine, but I think the president at the end of his interview says he is more optimistic about our country and about our economy today than he was a year ago.
Because again, if you think about where we were a year ago, we were in meetings talking about what if these series of banks go under. What are going to do if — I mean, there were, you know, these were — these were eye-opening experiences. We were — we were — we all remember from the first jobs report, we were watching the economy shed jobs at a rate that had previously been unseen.
TAPPER: Just in terms of the politics of this, what does the president plan on doing? You've talked a lot about the anger out there and the frustration, and the president did, too, when he was in Boston on Sunday. What do you plan on doing to convince these people who are angry that they need to trust the president and trust the Democratic Party, because obviously many of them are turning away from the Democratic Party and the president?
GIBBS: Well, look it, I think that's in many ways the result of — that anger is now pointed at us because we're in charge, rightly so. Look, I think the president's focus on jobs and the economy is one. I think we will have — clearly financial reform is going to take and play a bigger role in what happens legislatively in the next several months, ensuring that we have honest rules of the road going forward; that we're not rewarding excessive risk; that we have an independent agency that protects and looks after consumers.
You saw the president discuss last week ensuring that taxpayers are paid back in full for what was lent to banks in order to stabilize that financial system. I think both of those will certainly — along with jobs — will be a big priority for this president, upcoming.