Saturday, July 28, 2012
(CBS News) WASHINGTON - President Obama and his presumptive GOP rival, Mitt Romney, would both probably like to forget the last couple of days.
The president's campaign got some not-so-good news when it was announced the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.5 percent from April to June - down from 2 percent growth in the January-March quarter.
"Most economists would say the risk of recession is stalking the president in this campaign," observes National Journal White House correspondent Major Garrett, "but it is not a robust fear. Not a legitimate fear.
"One-point-five percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth indicates the economy is growing somewhat and not falling all the way back. It is a retreat from the 2 percentage point growth recorded the earlier quarter. So when the president talks about a campaign slogan (of) 'Forward,' the economy is moving backward, it's not falling into recession, but it is clearly in stall mode. And that's not good news for the president in any context.
"Voters vote on jobs and economic trajectory. The jobs growth generated by 1.5 percent GDP will not be enough to move the unemployment rate down precipitously. Democrats tell me, 'Look, people understand the economy is not in a good way. They've already baked those expectations (in) or lowered them in their minds.' So they don't believe these numbers really hurt the president."
"But I believe they do. Any time you don't have forward movement in the economy, that's difficult for a president seeking reelection."
Romney had a tough time when he got to London for the first leg of a week-long trip that also takes him to Israel Saturday and then Poland.
He was widely criticized by British politicians and media after questioning London's preparedness to host the 2012 Summer Games, though he went through Friday without any gaffes and took in the Olympic opening ceremony.
"What Mitt Romney was hoping to do," Garret explained on "CBS This Morning: Saturday," "was pole vault with this trip a little bit on the side of the foreign policy stage and say, look, he can be effective and he cannot make mistakes.
"What did he do? Instead of planting the pole and getting over, he fell down. He just flat fell down.
"No Republican looking at Mitt Romney the first day in London can say to themselves, 'Well that was a credible beginning.' They simply can't.
"On a topic he knows well, the Olympics, he knows what cities and nations around those cities do to try to prepare, you don't criticize something that is just about to begin. And ... yes, the British made fun of themselves. But that's a British thing that they do themselves to themselves. They don't expect foreigners, especially Americans, to criticize them in advance. Mitt Romney should have known that. He didn't do it. And he fouled up what was supposed to be an easy glide to this trip.
"Now it gets tougher. Because Israel is real politics. Israel is real world stage. Any mis-step there, and it will compound what was supposed to be a great trip turning into a muddled one."
Separately, Garrett said Mr. Obama is "paralyzed" on the issue of gun control, even in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., massacre.
To see the entire interview, click on the video in the player above.