O’Malley walks back remark, says country ‘clearly’ better off

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Monday said the country was “clearly” better off than four years ago, walking back remarks he made this weekend.

“We are clearly better off as a country, because we are now creating jobs rather than losing jobs,” said O’Malley on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “We have not recovered all that we lost in the Bush recession,” he added.

O’Malley’s comments came after Republicans seized on a remark he made on Sunday saying that voters were not better off.

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, “but that’s not the question of this election.

“Without a doubt, we are not as well-off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses," O'Malley had added.

On Monday, O’Malley sought to clarify the comment, saying that despite the gains made under Obama, Democrats knew there were still many families struggling in the economy. 

“Is there anybody on this panel who thinks we’ve recovered all we’ve lost in the Bush recession? I don’t think anybody can say that,” he said. “But clearly we are moving forward; we are creating jobs. Unemployment’s down, job creation is up and those positive movements would not happen without the president’s leadership.”

The Obama campaign, faced with a persistently slow recovery, has argued that the challenges left by the Bush administration were unique and that the president needs more time to turn the economy around. 

On Sunday, Obama senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said voters “understand that we have been through a traumatic economic experience in the country, unlike anything that we have ever seen.”

Republicans, though, say that Obama now owns the economy and is blaming his predecessors to distract voters from his own failed economic record. 

"President Obama's problem is that the truth about his abysmal record hurts,” said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams, in a statement Sunday. “Americans aren't better off today than they were four years ago. Twenty-three million Americans are struggling for work and more people are in poverty than ever before under the Obama economy.”