Despite health care ruling, Obama campaign puts economy first
President Barack Obama is on the road right now, on an election bus swing through Ohio and Pennsylvania. Despite his victory last week in the Supreme Court, his campaign still believes the election will be won and lost on the issue that has been front and center from the beginning.
I asked Ben LaBolt, the Obama for America Press Secretary, directly, which is issue is more important, the economy or health care. LaBolt did not hesitate.
“Ultimately it is going to be the economy,” he said. “That is clearly what the American people are telling us.”
The economy, much like health care, is not a slam dunk winning issue for the Obama campaign, but LaBolt pressed strongly, that ultimately voters will come to appreciate the president’s record.
“We will take our record on the economy and put it right up there next to Mitt Romney’s,” LaBolt said.
LaBolt emphasised what kind of situation Obama inherited when he got to the White House, an economy losing 800 thousand jobs a month. After a rough first year, the jobs numbers are slowly coming back, and polls show an even split between Obama and his republican rival Mitt Romney when it comes to who would handle the economy better.
A CNN poll released Tuesday shows that 48% of registered voters prefer the president as the man to help the economy recover, but a nearly even 47% choose Romney. Obama performs slightly better in swing states like Virginia.
The fact that the jobs picture is still unsettled, and that the Obama has clearly not overwhelmingly convinved Americans that his policies are making things better, each and every jobs report becomes an event that requires both the White House and Chicago to hold their collective breaths. In May, the unemployment rate jumped a tick and the rate of new jobs slowed down. In April the unemployment rate fell, but the rate of additonal jobs was down as well. The June numbers, which are released on Friday aren’t expected to be encouraging with several key economic indicators not returning very positive reports.
UPDATE The June jobs report was released by the Labor department and it was sluggish as expected. The country added only 80,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate is stuck at 8.2%.
LaBolt shook off the notion that every jobs report leads to a drag on the campaign. He argued that the president is ready to put a million people to work for the government, if congressional republicans would only let him.
“This would provide funding for states and municipalities to keep teachers in the classrooms and cops on the street,” LaBolt said. “The president believes we need to pass it right now, Mitt Romney opposses it.”
The Romney campaign, meanwhile argued that plans like that just continue to pile of a national debt that will eventually be to big to overcome.
“It’s going to be hard for the President to argue Americans should gamble on a second term while on his bus tour,” said Romney spokesman Curt Cashour. “The bottom line is, Americans can’t afford to double down on four more years of President Obama’s failed policies.”
Both sides setting the stage for another First Friday, and a check of the nation’s jobs condition.
Extended clips from Ben LaBolt can be found below: