The Obama campaign’s senior political adviser David Axelrod appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos Sunday to defend his boss’ Friday presser gaffe.
After President Obama called a press conference Friday to address the continued sluggish global economy, Mitt Romney and other Republicans jumped on a single phrase uttered in his response to a reporter’s question. The “private sector is doing fine,” the president said. In context, what Obama really did was compare the private sector to cuts to jobs at the state and local level (firefighters, teachers, police).
Romney called the president “out of touch,” and his campaign issued a new ad capitalizing on the mistake.
Obama inadvertently played into the Republican narrative on small government (a narrative that suggests cutting government spending on things like social services while increasing defense spending).
The Obama campaign is defending the remark, which Obama later clarified. Axelrod told Stephanopoulos that he suspected such gaffes would “be of little consequence” come November. Then he went on the attack.
“We are making a case about how you grow this economy in a way that will build a strong middle class,” he said. “It’s not the way Gov. Romney proposes. “His history as a job creator is suspect. His business was creating wealth for his partners.”
Axelrod seized on Romney’s response in which the former Massachusetts governor suggested the failed recall in Wisconsin proved Americans want the government to cut back on spending on teachers and firefighters.
“His statement was we don’t need any more firefighters, we don’t need any more teachers,” Axlerod said. “I would suggest he’s living on a different planet if he thinks that’s a prescription for a better planet.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who also appeared on Face the Nation disagreed with Romney that this was the sentiment coming out of his state. “I think it’s slightly different,” he said. I think in our case what they wanted were people who were willing to take on the tough issues.”
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a labor organization that supports President Obama’s re-election, echoed Axelrod in an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“There is a stark difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney,” Trumka said. “Mitt Romney wants fewer teachers, that means larger classrooms; he says he wants fewer firefighters, that means less safety. Rich people will probably have good protection; working-class people won’t.”