Skip to content

Obama Team Preps for Strong Defense of His Handling of the Economy

Looking to ramp up attention for next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Obama campaign officials said they plan to highlight the president’s efforts to turn around the economy, including the auto industry bailout, and provide details of what still needs to be done.

“The goal of our convention is to bring the choice in this election into sharp focus,” Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager, said on a conference call today.

“By the end of the next week, the American people will see the road map of how as a country we will reclaim the economic security for the middle class and everyone fighting to be in the middle class,” Cutter continued.

Her comments and those of Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod came after the Republican convention ended in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday night.

Both Cutter and Axelrod charged that the GOP convention did not make the case for why Mitt Romney should be elected president but rather focused on personal attacks and firing up the base.

“He was given an opportunity to talk directly to the American people and he didn’t,” Cutter said. “Republican after Republican, including Mitt Romney, tried tearing down the president without offering any substantive reason why Mitt Romney should be president. They failed to make the case for a Romney presidency.”

Axelrod said the GOP convention, and Romney’s speech Thursday night accepting the GOP nomination, consisted of “some snarky lines about the president, some gauzy reminiscences of the past and some buzzwords for the base. And much of the Republican convention was very much about the Republican Party talking to itself.”

Axelrod also said that Romney “could give a 45-minute speech and never mention that he was governor of Massachusetts is a telling fact.”

“Ten years ago he made the same kind of pitch [to be governor] that he made last night, which was ‘I am a businessman, I have the secret sauce, trust me, if you elect me the economy will boom and everyone will profit,’” Axelrod continued. “And that is, of course, not what happened in Massachusetts.”

Axelrod predicted that Romney would get minor bounce in the polls from the convention but not what the GOP leaders had hoped for.

“We feel good about where we are coming out of their convention,” Axelrod said.

But where the Republicans sought to emphasize the slowness of the economic recovery under Obama, the Democratic convention is expected to talk about Obama’s successes in helping the economy, such as the bailout of the auto industry.

“It certainly will be something we want to talk about,” said Axelrod, who worked in the Obama administration at the time. “He was getting a lot of mixed counsel [on the bailout] … and made a courageous decision and bet on the American worker.”

“You’ll hear from people, from top to bottom, who were involved in that decision as well as leaders from communities” that benefited.

Asked about details of Obama’s acceptance speech, Axelrod said, “The president is still working on his speech, but I can tell you this: The speech is going to reflect the thinking of a leader who has great confidence in this country and a clear sense of what we need to do to continue to repair the damage that was done by the recession and reclaim the economic security that so many Americans have lost.”

Leading up to his speech Thursday, the president will visit Iowa, Colorado, Ohio and Virginia to discuss energy, infrastructure, tax reform and deficit reduction,

“All the things it takes to strengthen the middle class and build an economy meant to last,” Cutter said.