A day after Democratic leaders were mostly mum on the subject — and Maryland’s governor, Democrat Martin O’Malley, even agreed with a questioner that Americans are not better off — the Obama campaign responded aggressively to the attack Monday.
“Folks, let me make something clear — say it to the press,” Vice President Biden said during a campaign stop in Detroit. “America is better off today than they left us when they left. . . . Let me just sum it up this way, folks. . . .
Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.”
The newest fight over the national megaphone came as Democrats hoped to pivot the conversation away from Obama’s record during the past four years and pitch it forward instead, making their case in Charlotte that Obama is the right man, and Democrats the right party, for the next four. At a news conference on Monday, the chairman of the Democratic convention, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, said the convention would seek to remind people what kind of economy Obama inherited from President George W. Bush and what would happen if the country went back to the policies put in place by Republicans a decade ago.
Despite recent attention on other issues, both campaigns recognize the dominance of the economy and are battling to gain an advantage as the Democrats convene. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, taken last week, shows that 72 percent of voters say the president’s handling of the economy will be a “major factor” in their vote this November.
Obama continues to get more negative reviews than positive ones for his handling of the economy, and there is tepid confidence that the economy would get back on track in a second Obama term. For more than two years, majorities have disapproved of how Obama is dealing with issue No. 1.
Before a Labor Day crowd of union workers in Toledo earlier Monday, Obama hammered home the argument that the country would have been far worse off if a Republican administration had been in charge during the past four years.
He told 3,000 people at Scott High School here that he “bet on American workers” when his administration provided $85 billion in government loans to GM and Chrysler in 2009. And Obama contrasted his record with that of Mitt Romney, telling the crowd the Republican nominee wanted to “let Detroit go bankrupt.”
“I believed in you,” Obama said. “I bet on you. I’ll make that bet any day of the week. And because of that bet, three years later that bet is paying off for America. The American auto industry has come roaring back.”