-- President Obama will once again try to refocus the public’s attention and the political debate on the economy this week, delivering what’s being billed as a major economic address in his home state of Illinois. The White House is trying to drum up support for the speech, but it’s a tough sell, given how often the president has launched similar campaigns in recent years.
Republican critics claim the president has publicly pivoted back to the economy numerous times, but to little avail. “Tomorrow the president says he’s going to go out and pivot back to jobs. Well, welcome to the conversation, Mr. President,” House Speaker John Boehner mockingly told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. “If the president was serious about helping our economy, he wouldn’t give another speech. He’d reach out and actually work with us.”
The president’s Wednesday speech at Knox College, the site of his first major economic address as a senator in 2005, kicks off a series of events intended to reframe the economic debate ahead of key negotiations with Capitol Hill this fall.
The White House says the economy has always been the “central preoccupation” of the Obama presidency and that progress has been made, but that there’s more work to do.
“There is no question that here in Washington, at least, if not out in the country, there have been a great many distractions from the central preoccupations of the American people, which have to do with the economy and the need to ensure that individuals have good jobs,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday. “[The president] hopes and believes it’s essential that we set our sights high and that we look more broadly at the state of the economy and where we need to go as a nation as we engage in the discussions that we’ll be having in the next several months.”
Asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl about his repeated pivots, Carney explained “the fact is the president has repeatedly — you say 10 or 11, I would say even more than that — focused on the economy in major speeches, events across the country, small gatherings, roundtables, throughout his presidency and prior to his presidency. And he will continue to do that because it is the number one most important issue in his mind.”
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