O'Malley Says We're Not Better Off; Rahm Was Unimpressed

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Martin O'Malley broke from the party line on Sunday when he said the country wasn't better off than it was four years ago on CBS's Face the Nation. Bob Schieffer asked if he could "honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago?" O'Malley responded: "Without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recessions, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars, charged for the first time to credit cards — the national credit card." Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter immediately jumped to play damage control add context. "In terms of the question of whether people are better off today than they were four years ago, I just want to remind you what was happening four years ago at this time," she said. "In the quarter before the president took office, we lost three million jobs. Our country was bleeding. Our financial system was on the verge of collapse. We were passing bank bailouts to ensure that our system could stay afloat. That's what was happening before the president took office."

Meanwhile, Obama's Senior Adviser David Axelrod said the (sort-of) exact opposite on Fox News Sunday. Chris Wallace wasted no time asking the question. Instead of saying "better off," Axelrod opted to saying Americans are in a "better position." "We're in a better position than we were four years ago." Axelrod said. He pointed to 29 straight months of job growth, but said the economy isn't exactly where the President wants it to be. "It's going to take some time to work through it," Axelrod said.

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O'Malley also appeared on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday and, in a sound bite that won't get nearly as much play, blamed the high unemployment numbers on the GOP. When asked, O'Malley said it was all their fault. "Yes, we can. because more jobs were created in the private sector last year alone than in all eight years of George W. Bush," O'Malley said. "We did not get into the economic problems we did in because President Obama was in office for two months. I mean, the ground was laid by the bad policies of George W. Bush." Like most Democrats, O'Malley blamed the Republicans in Congress for holding up any potential progress. "We need to give credit to the Republicans in Congress [who defeated] every jobs bill and slow down the economy and frankly, I'm a little bit surprised at just how successful many Republican governors were at cutting the the public sector so that teacher and the police and firefighter jobs would be a drag on the otherwise consistent private sector growth," he said.

Rahm Emanuel wasn't dazzled by Mitt Romney's speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday. In fact, he said it was "vacuous," and that's why everyone's talking about Clint Eastwood. Ouch! "The fact is, coming out of the convention, they didn't want a debate about Clint Eastwood. They wanted it about Mitt Romney's ideas... The reason they're [talking about Eastwood] is that Mitt Romney's speech was so devoid and vacuous of any ideas," Emanuel said on NBC's Meet the Press. "There was no "'read my lips,' or 'for those who work hard and play by the rules,' as Bill Clinton said in '92. Anything that said here's my philosophy, a 'compassionate conservative' philosophy, there was nothing there. So the space post-convention is about Clint Eastwood or the fact that Paul Ryan's speech was factually challenged," Emanuel said. 

So, basically, this was Emmanuel on Thursday night (via the AP): 

Obama senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs thinks it's silly if you expected the same excitement from the '08 campaign to return. "Nobody is sitting up here saying this is 2008," Gibbs said on State of the Union."What has happened since the election in 2008 and right now, again, is this huge economic calamity caused by a series of bad decisions that were made before the president ever got there," he added. He also said he thinks the race will be close in November. "This election was always going to be close, because we live in a closely divided country I remind people all of the time that just four years ago everyone was talking about the president's landslide, and he got 53 percent of the vote," Gibbs said. "Let's understand that we live in a very closely divided electorate, and we have for quite some time and this election was quite frankly always going to be close, but it is an important fundamental choice about where we go from here."

Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom isn't worried about the criticism his boss is taking for not mentioning was in his convention speech on Thursday because he did it the day before. "The day before the convention speech, Gov. Romney traveled to Indianapolis on Wednesday and he gave a speech before the American Legion," Fehrnstrom said on State of the Union. "He spoke to Afghanistan in a big speech before the American Legion the night before the convention speech." Apparently Obama was also invited to speak to the Legion, but he declined. "That was an invitation that President Obama declined," said Fehrnstrom. "Gov. Romney thought it was a privilege to be speaking to people who had served so nobly and in that speech, he talked about Afghanistan, and he also talked about the $1 trillion in defense cuts taking place under this president which his own defense secretary has said will be devastating to the national defense."

Newt Gingrich came to Todd Akin's defense over Karl Rove's "don't come looking for me" murder joke from earlier this week on Meet the Press. "Karl Rove said some terrible things...for which he has apologized, which should remind us, people make mistakes," he said. "In the age of Gabby Giffords, it is not a joke to say that a member of Congress ought to get murdered." 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.