The Republicans think they've found a powerful weapon with which to bludgeon President Obama--and it's something the president handed to them on his own. It's Obama's comment last week that, "The private sector is doing fine."
Ever since, the GOP has produced two Web videos mocking his statement, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and a number of his surrogates have been blasting Obama for the remark.
The barrage continues Tuesday as the Republicans push their argument in a variety of ways, from comments by officials at the Republican National Committee to a conference call that GOP officials from Pennsylvania are holding with reporters. That call is designed to mark Obama's scheduled visit to Pennsylvania on Tuesday. And Romney is expected to use the issue as a major talking point when he embarks on a five-day bus trip at the end of this week.
It's all designed to invalidate Obama's argument that he understands the economy better than Romney does and that he has a better grasp of the problems of the middle class. The Republicans say private-sector job growth has been very weak, and Obama should know as much.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney got snippy at his daily media briefing Monday when asked about the issue. He said reporters were accepting Romney's distortion of the president's comments and not quoting Obama in context. Carney's point was that Obama was saying the private sector was doing better relative to the public sector.
But regardless of how Obama loyalists try to defend the president, Romney and the Republicans show no sign of letting up. One of their most potent techniques is to use the video of Obama making his controversial private-sector statement in the first place. Obama later tried to soften his first remark, admitting that private-sector job growth has been weak overall, but he can't take back the video.