WASHINGTON â€” President Barack Obama insisted the U.S. is not in danger of falling into another recession, but acknowledged in a televised interview aired Sunday that his re-election will hinge on the economy.
In the interview with CBS News taped last week â€” after a new Gallup poll found just 26 percent approve of the way he is handling the economy â€” Obama said, â€œIâ€™m the president of the United States and when people arenâ€™t happy with whatâ€™s happening in Washington … Iâ€™m going to be impacted just like Congress is. And you know, I completely understand that and we expected that.â€
He blamed votersâ€™ frustration and the recent stock market turmoil on an economy thatâ€™s â€œnot growing fast enough.â€
As Obama toured the rural Midwest by bus last week, he seemed to be in campaign mode, daring Republicans to block his upcoming jobs package and calling on voters to â€œsend a message to folks in Washington.â€ He pledged to send the jobs proposal to Congress and to campaign against lawmakers if they refused to pass it.
But in the CBS interview, the president acknowledged that voters could blame everyone in Washington â€” including him.
â€œAnd for me to argue, â€˜Look, weâ€™ve actually made the right decisions, things would have been much worse had we not made those decisionsâ€™ â€” thatâ€™s not that satisfying if you donâ€™t have a job right now,â€ he said. He added that he expects â€œto be judged a year from now on whether or not things have continued to get better.â€
Economic growth has been weak and the unemployment rate has been above 9 percent for months.
Obama attributed Augustâ€™s stock market roller coaster to â€œa lot of head windsâ€ from world events â€” the debt crisis in Europe, the earthquake in Japan and the spike in gas prices caused by the wave of protests that hit the Middle East last spring. The Dow Jones industrial average is down 6.6 percent for the year.
â€œI donâ€™t think weâ€™re in danger of another recession, but we are in danger of not having a recovery thatâ€™s fast enough to deal with what is a genuine unemployment crisis for a whole lot of folks out there,â€ he said. â€œAnd thatâ€™s why we need to be doing more.â€
Echoing the hopeful message that served him well during the 2008 campaign, Obama insisted that Washington is not as broken as voters may think.
â€œThere have been times when Congress was just as dysfunctional; thereâ€™s been times where the country was full of vitriol in its politics,â€ he said. â€œSo this isnâ€™t unique in our time.â€
He criticized Republicans for recent â€œbrinkmanshipâ€ over raising the nationâ€™s debt ceiling but said he â€œabsolutely can do business with them.â€
Obama said he would push Democrats to find â€œcommon ground and compromise.â€