By Meghashyam Mali - 09/02/12 04:12 PM EDT
Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley (Md.) said Sunday that voters were not better off now than four years ago, but said the economic mess left by the former Bush administration was to blame, not President Obama.
O’Malley was asked by CBS host Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” if he could “honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago?”
“No,” replied O’Malley, a prominent Obama surrogate, adding “but that’s not the question of this election.”
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, appearing on the show alongside O’Malley defended the president’s record, saying the economic recovery was well under way.
“I just want to remind you what was happening four years ago at this time,” Cutter 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.”
The Obama campaign acknowledges voters are concerned about the economy, but says the administration inherited unique and challenging conditions from former President Bush.
On Sunday, Obama senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs reiterated Cutter and O’Malley’s statements. On CNN, Gibbs said voters “understand that we have been through a traumatic economic experience in the country, unlike anything that we have ever seen.”
Republicans, however, including Bush’s brother Jeb Bush, say that the president now owns the weak economy.
Jeb Bush blasted Obama in his address at the GOP convention last week, telling him it was “time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies.”
“You were dealt a tough hand but your policies have not worked,” said the former Florida governor.