Emanuel: Obama deserves ‘incomplete’ grade on economy

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Chicago mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said he agreed with President Obama’s self-grade of an “incomplete” on the economy, arguing that until the middle class feels more secure, Obama would see the recovery as his ongoing job.

“I think it would be a true statement, which is until the middle class feels like their economic security is where it should be, the president should have an incomplete, in the sense of being able to afford a college education, save for retirement, afford healthcare, own a home and have the security of their jobs and the skills to grow and maintain a middle class life,” said Emanuel on NBC’s “Today” show.

He added that the president’s “incomplete” remark was a “proper grade.”

Emanuel said Obama wanted to “make sure the American people know he has not given up working day in and day out from the moment he wakes up to the moment he sleeps, every time in that office that he is making progress for this, so they can achieve what they can for themselves.”

As Democrats meet in Charlotte, N.C., this week for their national convention, Republicans are making the question of whether voters are better off now than they were four years ago their central theme.

In an interview aired Monday, Obama said his own performance rated an “incomplete” grade but said the economy had made large strides since he took office.

Obama’s top surrogates this week argued that the country was better than it was four years ago but that the economic troubles left by former President George W. Bush had presented unique and persistent challenges.

Republicans counter that the above-8-percent unemployment rate and rising debt show Obama has failed to turn around the nation’s economy, and after nearly four years can no longer blame his predecessors for the failures of his own economic policies. 

Emanuel, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, appeared on multiple networks to defend the president’s record. 

In an interview on “CBS This Morning,” he dismissed suggestions the president’s team was overconfident ahead of November’s vote and said Democrats expected a tough fight.

"I think everybody knows this is going to be a close race," he said. "I don't walk with any confidence ... I know this: the president doesn't share that [confidence]. This is a very competitive person, he doesn't have any confidence." 

Emanuel also guaranteed that the GOP congressional opposition that has plagued Obama's first term would be different if the president wins a second, saying he saw the same thing happen in 1996 when former President Clinton won reelection and it "cleared the air."