Press secretary Jay Carney on Monday defended the White House's aggressive sale of President Obama's upcoming speeches on the economy, arguing that the time was right to return the focus to economic issues.
Carney was repeatedly pressed during his daily press briefing about what was new or special about the president's speeches, which include a major address Wednesday in Illinois and follow-up events in Missouri and Jacksonville.
“We plead guilty to the charge there is a thematic continuity,” Carney said.
Obama’s address will offer “a longer view of the economic future” and a return to the “issues people care most about,” Carney said. He indicted the speech would be thematically broad, selling the address as a sweeping discussion of the American economy rather than a specific policy prescription.
“We think that it's important,” he said. “We think we're at a crossroads in many ways — where we've been, where we've arrived, and where we can go.”
The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) in a blog post Monday said that this was at least the 11th time that President Obama had pivoted back to jobs and the economy.
“Inevitably, it gets pushed to the side in favor of their liberal agenda until, a few months later, they’ll roll it out again — like the same beat-up old car with a new paint job,” said the NRCC's Matt Gorman.
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' MORE (R-Ohio) tweeted that there was “no pivot for the GOP; jobs and economy continues to be our focus.”
Carney said the repetitive nature of the events underscored the administration's unwavering focus on economic matters. He also signaled that the improving state of the economy could give additional weight to the president's economic proposals.
At the same time, Carney undercut assumptions that the president would use the address to turn the screws on congressional Republicans ahead of debt ceiling and budget battles. The press secretary said he wanted to steer members of the press way from expectations that the speech would “focus on specific struggles with Congress.”
Still, Carney acknowledged the looming deadlines, indicating Democrats and the White House did hope to corral some sort of political advantage.
“There's no question we have some very important matters to resolve in the coming months in Washington,” the press secretary added.
He added that Americans would “not look kindly on action made here in Washington … to appease wings of political parties” with shutdown or default.
And Carney looked to contrast the White House's focus with the GOP, saying the president's political opponents have spent the past months focused on controversies that “turned out not to be scandals.”