June 10th, 2012
10:42 AM ET
11 years ago

Axelrod weighs in on Obama’s private sector comments

(CNN) - While President Barack Obama walked back his remarks last week and said it was "absolutely clear" that the economy, in fact, was "not doing fine," his campaign's senior adviser on Sunday had a hard time making the same concession.

Asked repeatedly about the president's initial comments, in which Obama said Friday the private sector was "doing fine" compared to the public sector, David Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the private sector certainly needs more jobs but did not go as far as mirroring the president's clarification on the state of the economy.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

Pressed by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on whether the administration really believes the private sector is fine, Axelrod continued to point to the need for more public sector jobs.

"We need to accelerate job creation in the private sector. One of the ways that we can do that is putting teachers and fire fighters and police back to work because those are good middle class jobs," Axelrod said.

Ryan Williams, spokesman for the Romney campaign, pounced on the interview, saying Axelrod was dancing around the question.

“When even your own chief strategist can’t defend your comments, it indicates that your assessment of the economy might be wrong,” Williams said in a statement.

Axelrod, in turn, faulted Republicans for attacking the president's comments, saying they were "more eager to have a debate over an out-of-context clause" than the "substance of what (Obama) says."

In full context, Obama said during a Friday press conference that 4.3 million jobs had been added in the private sector in the last 27 months.

"The private sector's doing fine," Obama said. "Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in."

After a firestorm ignited over his remarks, the president spoke again later in the day in an attempt to clarify his comments.

“That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this part month, this past year talking about how we can make this economy stronger," Obama said in the Oval Office. "The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, there are too many homes underwater."

Responding to the president's remarks Friday, Republican challenger Mitt Romney accused Obama of being out of touch and drew fire of his own when he suggested government should cut back on public jobs.

"(Obama) wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers," Romney said at a press conference in Utah. "Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."

Axelrod reiterated a swipe his team took on Friday, faulting Romney for being what he called "too light on the notion that we should help state and local governments keep teachers, fire fighter on the job."

"What planet is he living on where he thinks that we can take these kind of hits in our education system and progress as a country?" Axelrod said Sunday.

- CNN's Shawna Shepherd, Kevin Liptak and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney video goes after Obama's comments on economy

Daniels, Walker want Romney to go bold

McCain: Obama responsible for leaks, Holder has no credibility

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: 2012 • David Axelrod • Economy • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Donkey Party

    If called upon, I implore all police, firefighters, and EMTs to ignore Romney's (or any GOPer's) pleas for help. It's only fair since they ignore yours.

    June 10, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    GOP drama and NONSENSE!!!!

    June 10, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. joyfulmeme

    This is much to do about nothing.

    It was apparent what the President meant Friday (4.1 million jobs created by private section; 400,000 job lost by public sector). The point was the private sector is doing better then the public sector thanks to government bailouts and concessions to the private sector. It is very apparent that the president understands that the economy is not where it should be and makes that point repeatly.

    June 10, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. Gimmeabreak!

    Poor Axel-rot. Has run out of spins and is beginning to look as bedraggled as his boss, Obama-with-the-deer-in-the-headlights look. Time for both to retire - now - they've certainly earned it!

    June 10, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Yeah- and Mitt Romney doesn't "care about poor people..."

    Sheesh.... grow up!

    June 10, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Apparently it's a well hidden secret to the right-wing of America that corporations are sitting on trillions of profit. Guess the CEOs of these corporations now receiving tens of millions of annual "perks" is also being hidden from Conservatives.

    Lesson learned: Trillions in profit does not equal jobs. Never has - never will. If we just give them one more tax cut, one more "break" surely corporations will start sharing the wealth by once again offering jobs to we the little people ... hun, GOPers?

    June 10, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Investment Advisor

    Axelrod....looking desperate. His back is against the wall and his pathetic spin talent is losing its venom. You talk about restoring trust in politics...then start with discounting everything that this man says. Slimey!

    June 10, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. jack878

    Just hire more government workers and this will fix everything, isn't this what they tried in Greece?

    June 10, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Yankee Doodle

    Axelrod and Obama are aliens from Planet Socialism.

    Hiring government employees does not generate national wealth. Government employees are an expense to the nation and do not generate any national wealth. Government employees are consumers of national wealth, not producers.

    The wealth of any nation is the product of the private sector, unless you happen to live on Planet Socialism where the government owns and operates all wealth producing mechanisms.

    The very reason that government employees are being reduced is because of the lack of government funds to pay their salary. Of course, on Planet Socialism the solution is to borrow more money to pay the salaries under the guise of economic stimulus.

    It is time for the citizens of the United States to reject the alien philosophy of Planet Socialism and be accountable and fiscally responsible.

    June 10, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. King

    Obama took a crumbling private sector and make them rich beyond their Wilder dream, yet they refuse to hire American, their focus is in China. Obama has done a masterful job of setting up the country, but if he start forcing corporate to focus here instead of China, the repubs will scream government overreach and the death of free market.

    June 10, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Thomas

    @California Conservative
    FACT: Obama doesn't support America.

    Who do you work for, Darrell Issa ?

    The Fact is , your facts are wrong !
    Next you will say he doesn't love his children , he's not really an American , He's not a true Christian !

    You can have your own opinion , not your own facts . I hope your not a lawyer !

    June 10, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. Bill

    I support President Obama, but boy did David Axelrod make himself look like a fool because he refused to answer the question, "Do you think the private sector is doing fine?" He turned it into campaign argument. He wriggled. He fumbled. Why couldn't he just answer the question? What a sorry performance.

    June 10, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Jacki

    I've never seen Candy Crowley so inept as an interviewer as I did today with Axelrod. She had no control.

    June 10, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    I wonder if you look at all the states who cut workers, (teachers, firefighters, policemen and government employees), and check if they are run by a Republican Governor and Congress or if they are a Democratic Govenor with a democratic Congress. I would be you would find that the Republican states have cut the jobs in effect to bring up the Unemployment percentage so that they could make the President look bad? It does seem that the states that are in the RED or the Republican states!! Not the Democratic run states.

    June 10, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I'm sick of Republicans down talking President Obama about jobs when in fact they haven't offered to give up their lucritive taxpayer salaries, their public paid healthcare for them and their families, plus the millions they receive from lobbyist. How dare them sit back, complain and do nothing but obstruct, lie and then sell Romney to the American people when it's us who have protected and made these Romney's rich and they did nothing to serve our country.

    June 10, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. JL

    Seriously?!! Pressing Axelrod to give a "Yes or No' answer on whether the private sector is doing "fine" is the most pressing question to ask? I turned the show off, PERMANENTLY. I am looking for real journalism and discourse, not more gotcha questions. Thought more of you Candy.

    June 10, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |