Who knows if the President’s line from Friday of “The private sector is doing fine,” will turn into something much bigger or just be a verbal bump in the road – but the White House will be hoping for better public relations on Monday when President Obama does interviews with eight local television stations.
The Cabinet Room interivews will be with stations from Roanoke, Virginia, Jacksonville, Florida, Greenville, South Carolina, Sioux City, Iowa, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Reno, Nevada, and Fresno, California.
It isn’t hard to imagine that one of those interviews will include a reference to Friday’s news conference, where the President bemoaned job cuts in state and local government, while saying things were going well outside the public sector.
“The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine,” Mr. Obama told reporters in the White House Briefing Room.
A few hours later, the President walked back that line during a photo opportunity in the Oval Office.
“Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s the reason I had the press conference,” the President said.
But by then, the damage had been done, as Republicans were on the attack, labeling the President as “out of touch” and more.
It was another in a string of recent setbacks for the President and Democrats that included last week’s election defeat in Wisconsin, a bad jobs report for May and evidence that Mitt Romney and Republicans can raise more money than the Democrats.
Even after Friday’s public relations troubles, the White House isn’t backing off the President’s call to have the Congress send billions to the states to help them prevent layoffs for teachers and first responders.
“In 2009 and in 2010, we provided aid to states to help keep hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom,” the President said, referring to the controversial “stimulus” law.
“But we need to do more.”
But the President’s plan to send $140 billion in direct aid to the states for teachers, first responders and school construction has almost no chance of getting through.
And it’s not just the Republicans in the House who aren’t interested in another “stimulus” type plan – the idea hasn’t been brought up for a vote by Senate Democrats, as that type of extra spending might not garner the full support of the President’s party.
The push for more public sector job spending also seemed to strike a discordant political note for some, coming just three days after the setback for Democrats in Wisconsin, which to many also seemed like a rejection of government bureaucrats.
It will be interesting to see if any Republicans get weak-in-the-knees about the idea of extra spending on teachers and first responders – the White House will certainly try to use the bully pulpit to make that happen.
But Democrats will need to turn things around from how they’ve been going the past few weeks.