President Barack Obama walked back his statement that the "private sector is doing fine," hours after he made the gaffe that became instant fodder for Republicans.
"It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That's why I had a press conference," Obama told reporters from the Oval Office while meeting Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, according to NBC News.
Obama had tried to make the case for strengthening government sector jobs with more investment from the federal government, noting that private sector employment has been increasing at a fairly steady clip. But Republicans took his remarks as a sign that he is out of touch on the economy, comparing it to John McCain's declaration that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.
“For the President of the United States to stand up and say the private sector is doing fine is going to go down in history," Mitt Romney said in a speech in Iowa. "It's an extraordinary miscalculation and misunderstanding by a President who is out of touch, and we're going to take back this country and get America working again.”
"You know, and what I'm interested in hearing from Congress and Mr. Romney is what steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference?" Obama added, addressing Mitt Romney's response. "And so far, all we've heard are additional tax cuts to the folks who are doing fine, as opposed to taking steps that would actually help deal with the weaknesses in the economy and promote the kind of economic growth that we would all like to see."