Did President Obama just lift a page out of John McCain's gaffebook?
We all remember McCain's unfortunate phrasing in 2008 that Obama and Co. leapt on - as the financial crisis took grip, the Republican candidate said "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." How out of touch was McCain? asked the Obama campaign. Watch what McCain said in 2008:
Today, Obama may have walked into his own semantic sand trap at an abbreviated White House press conference, declaring that "the private sector is doing fine." How out of touch is Obama? asked Mitt Romney's campaign.
The evidence crashes with Obama's claim. Just last month, only 69,000 jobs were added to the economy, and the unemployment rate inched up to 8.2 percent. Last Friday, when that data became known, Obama remarked that jobs aren't being created "as fast as we want."
"And just like this time last year, our economy is still facing some serious headwinds," he said.
Why would Obama now say that the private sector is just dandy? In his answer today, Obama said the real problem with the economy is local governments " not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government."
Obama's chief campaign spokesman, Ben LaBolt, was asked on a conference call to explain what Obama meant. LaBolt rattled off some talking points about the poor state of the economy when Obama took office, and that Obama is "focused every day on creating jobs." When a reporter asked again whether Obama is happy with jobs in the private sector, LaBolt just said, "I just answered the question."
Republicans are swarming over Obama's comments the same way Democrats jumped out of their seats when McCain made his. McCain said he was talking about American workers as being fundamentally strong, but that didn't stop Obama from saying, "I don't know what yardstick Senator McCain uses, but where I come from, there's nothing more fundamental than a job." See that video here:
Now it's Romney's turn. From the candidate's comments after Obama's event: "He said the private sector is doing fine. Is he really that out of touch? I think he's defining what it means to be detached and out of touch with the American people."
Conservative hero Chris Christie is already panning Obama, saying his comments are "the core difference between who we are and what he represents for America." And the Republican National Committee has made sure that every reporter in the country has seen a quickly edited video of Obama's remark.
Asked RNC communications director Sean Spicer on Twitter: "How long before @davidaxelrod makes @BarackObama release video apologizing for 'private sector doing fine' comment?" Here's a video to go along with it.
House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor also mocked Obama. "Mr. President, take it from me: the private sector is not doing well," Boehner told reporters.
Finally, the Romney campaign has taken to parody, creating a Twitter account called @Obamadoingfine.