*** The bleeding doesn’t stop: If last week couldn’t have gotten worse for President Obama and his campaign, well, it did on Friday when Obama uttered these six words at his news conference: “The private sector is doing fine.” In context, the president was noting that the private sector is doing fine IN COMPARISON with the public sector, and the job numbers back that up. But in politics, the context often doesn’t matter. (Remember Romney’s “I’m not concerned about the very poor”?) Also in politics, a gaffe is dangerous when it plays into a narrative the opposition wants to create, and Team Romney has been building the narrative that the president just doesn’t understand the economy; just see the Romney campaign’s latest web video and the RNC’s research responding to Obama’s “private sector is doing fine” remark.
The good news for the Obama campaign is that 1) Romney has the challenge of proving he’s more in touch than Obama, 2) this is June, and 3) this race remains competitive. But right now, the Obama campaign looks caught off guard on so many levels; Friday was simply the icing on the cake.
*** Overly reactive: Being caught off guard is very surprising, given that the Obama campaign has been preparing for Romney over the past two or three years. They look overly reactive to the hourly news cycle -- something they would have mocked four years ago -- and seem to be unsure of their own message pushes against Romney. In fact, this all started with the Bain attacks, which privately they knew would get criticism in the Acela Corridor and yet the attacks really seemed to knock them off their game and they haven’t recovered since.
Bottom line: There’s a tightness and a message discipline that looks to outsiders as if it’s missing in Chicago. Perhaps this is the growing pains of trying to run a campaign an entire time zone away, which was supposed to be an asset and right now looks like a liability since the principle they represent is in DC. Team Obama also learned this lesson on Friday: If you don’t have much to say, don’t do a presser. The lack of news in the president’s remarks allowed the Romney campaign and GOP to pounce on those six words.