Obama 2008: 'People Don't Have a Lot of Confidence in the President'

One month before the 2008 election, candidate Obama gave an interview to ABC's Charlie Gibson after a campaign rally in Indiana. The topic of the interview was the economic crisis and what to do about it. Asked what he would do that would be different from the approach taken by President Bush, Obama had a clear answer. What was "as important as anything" was a President's ability to instill confidence in a nervous public:

GIBSON: You also said at this rally we need new direction, we need new leadership in Washington. What would you be doing right now that's any different than what the Bush Administration has done and is doing?

OBAMA: Well, I'll tell you what. I do think that the administration is hampered by the fact that people don't have a lot the confidence in the president. I mean, if you think about previous crises -- you know, FDR. There were a whole bunch of programs that he tried that didn't work. But what he was able to provide to people was a sense that somebody's in charge and we're going to get through this. And -- and that is as important as anything.

This apparently sounded pretty good to a lot of people in October 2008. Obama went on to win the election and his calm handling of the crisis was one reason cited for his decisive victory over John McCain.

Things look very different in 2012. With unemployment still over eight percent and job growth creeping along under two percent, many Americans are still wondering if we're going to get through it. We may still need a President who can instill confidence to help us get there but, according to Gallup, President Obama is no longer that person:

In 2009 Obama's approval rate on the economy was 59 percent, while his disapproval rate was just 30 percent. Today the numbers are nearly the mirror image of what they were. Fifty-nine percent now disapprove of his handling of the economy and just 38 percent approve.

Does Obama still believe that, absent the public's confidence, it is time for new leadership? What does he think he can offer in a second term that he didn't offer in his first? Faced with questions like this, one can see why the President might prefer to pretend the private sector is "doing fine."

A bit later in the interview, Obama was asked what it would take to win over skeptics. He replied, "You know, you have to deliver." Three and a half years later, America seems to have concluded that he hasn't.


'The Private Sector Is Doing Fine'


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