A pair of prominent Democrats look to the airwaves Sunday to downplay talk that President Obama's chances of re-election were in serious trouble.
Both former President Bill Clinton and Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin predicted that Mr. Obama — dogged by an unemployment rate that seems stuck at 9.1 percent and the lowest job approval numbers of his term — would rebound once Republicans settle on their candidate.
"When he's got a real opponent and people get to evaluate real alternatives, and they get to see how the Republicans respond to his speech, then I think we'll be in a different world politically," Mr. Clinton said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"When you are out there running against yourself and people feel miserable, it's hard to see your numbers go up," Mr. Clinton said.
Mr. Durbin, appearing on CNN, echoed those comments.
"I don't think anybody can predict 14 months from now what we're going to face and as [presidential adviser] David Axelrod said … we're not talking about the president running in some black box scenario. There will be an opponent."
Mr. Durbin said the president is more attuned to average voters than the Republican candidates in part because the GOP field is courting the tea party.
"As I listen to the Republican presidential nominee candidates come forward and spout their ideas and bow and genuflect to the tea party and their agenda, I remember the tea party is not very popular in America. What they brought us to in Washington twice already is a confrontation that virtually threatened to close down the government and our economy. So I don't think people like that style of politics," the senior Illinois senator said.
Both Democrats dismissed former Clinton political strategist James Carville, who last week advised the Obama White House to begin firing administration staffers.
"Fire somebody. No — fire a lot of people. This may be news to you but this is not going well," Mr. Carville wrote for CNN's website.
Mr. Clinton, making the rounds of the Sunday news programs two days before his annual Clinton Global Initiative kicks off in New York City, said he understood his former colleague's frustration, but disagreed with the advice.
"No, because [Mr. Obama's] got a good economic plan. The president never does the country much good by panicking. I know what James meant. James meant that we need a political turn. But the truth is, what we need is to create a climate where the American people can think instead of just vote their frustrations," Mr. Clinton said on NBC.
The former president, who lives near New York City, downplayed the surprising results of last week's New York 9th Congressional District special election, where Democrats lost the congressional seat for the first time since 1920.
"The New York case is — I know that district very well, and they were good enough to vote for me twice. But I think Mayor [Ed] Koch had a big impact on that election because of the controversy surrounding Israel and how they're reacting to the proposal of the Palestinians to get the U.N. to recognize them as a state. I think that had a lot to do with it," he said on ABC. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, endorsed the Republican winner, Bob Turner.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said Mr. Obama is in big trouble for the 2012 election.
"This is our election to lose. President Obama has done everything he knows how to do to beat himself. The reason people have little confidence in President Obama's policies, they're just not working. Everything is worse, 2 million people unemployed after he took office. Gas prices are 100 percent higher. Home values are down. Debt is up by 35 percent," he said on CNN.
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