First lady: President 'didn't point fingers, didn't place blame'

First lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday that President Obama did not look to blame others for the challenges he faced as president, an apparent rebuke of Republican accusations that the White House continues to point the finger at President George W. Bush for the lagging economy.

"See, but your president, he didn't point fingers," Michelle Obama said at a campaign fundraiser in New York. "He didn't place blame. Instead, he got to work, because he was thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother. See, and that's why he cut taxes for small businesses and for working families, because he believes that in America, teachers and firefighters should not pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires."

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During Thursday's presidential debates, the candidates were asked to respond to a questioner who said he was reluctant to support Mitt Romney because of Bush's record. 

Obama did say that he thought "it's important to tell you that we did come in during some tough times," but then pivoted to a defense of his economic record.

"We were losing 800,000 jobs a month when I started," Obama said. "But we had been digging our way out of policies that were misplaced and focused on the top doing very well and middle-class folks not doing well. Now we've seen 30 consecutive — 31 consecutive months of job growth; 5.2 million new jobs created. And the plans that I talked about will create even more."

Republicans have criticized the president, saying he has tried to deflect attention from his own policies by pointing fingers at the prior administration.

"Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies," said President Bush's brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in a speech at the Republican National Convention in August. "You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked. A real leader would accept responsibility."


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