CHARLOTTE -- Republicans in North Carolina are attacking the Obama campaign’s assertion that Americans are better off than they were four years ago.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley joined four other GOP lawmakers at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, just outside of the Bank of America stadium where Obama will accept his party’s nomination on Thursday. She followed up on her breakout performance at the Republican National Convention by slamming the president for trying to distract women voters with issues like contraception.
"Every distraction they have put on is insulting to the public," she said. "The public is going to go to the ballot box … and say are we better than we were four years ago or do we deserve better … I think Americans will self correct."
The Obama camp has made the state of the economy a centerpiece of the DNC to rebut Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s contention that the president’s policies have slowed the nation’s recovery. While unemployment has remained above 8 percent for 42 straight months, Obama contends that he reversed the massive job losses that followed the 2008 Wall Street collapse.
His own campaign surrogates have undermined his message of economic recovery. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is set to address the DNC on Tuesday night, stated that average Americans are doing worse than they were four years ago on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. He reversed himself on Monday. Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu compared O’Malley’s treatment to Obama surrogate Corey Booker’s criticism of Obama’s attacks on Bain Capital, which was quickly walked back.
"I was surprised by the honest evaluation … but he got Corey Booker’d back into [fantasy]land," he said. "He was right the first time."
Obama has been less enthusiastic about the nation’s economic performance in the past. Asked what grade he would give himself for the economic recovery, the president said he should receive "an incomplete" since his policies have not played out yet. Sununu compared the president’s remarks to that of failing students he encountered as a Tufts University professor.
"It was the students that failed to meet their responsibilities, failed to do what they were required to do in their position … if you gave them another chance he wouldn’t be able to do it," he said. "The ‘I’ is for incompetent."
The GOP has seized on the message, launching a new website on Tuesday called ObamaIsntWorking.com to highlight increased debt and unemployment under the Obama administration. The site features a video featuring news clips proclaiming, "This is the worst economic recovery America has ever had." It contrasts the weak recovery with Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion that the middle class is roaring back.
The GOP will hold daily press conferences in Charlotte throughout the Convention.