July 29th, 2008
06:38 PM ET

The economy isn't their strong suit

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/07/28/candidates.economy/art.obama2.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Barack Obama holds an economic roundtable in Washington on Monday."]
Gloria Borger
CNN Political Analyst

Sen. Barack Obama's trip abroad was a very smartly stage-managed extravaganza, and it may well have accomplished the goal of the campaign: to assuage Americans that Obama can stand toe to toe with foreign leaders.
Sen. Barack Obama holds an economic roundtable in Washington on Monday.

It's not as if he got a great bounce out of the trip: While his poll numbers did increase slightly, some of the numbers in key battleground states appeared to close. So it's hard to tell this soon.

What we do know is that neither Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee for president, nor Sen. John McCain, the probable Republican nominee, can get to the magic 50 percent number in the polls, and that's not great for either fellow.

Both know they have lots of work left. And it's on the economy.

Obama had barely landed from London, England, when he was playing host to a D.C.-based economic confab including some of America's best-known economic gurus - Warren Buffet, former Fed chairman Paul Volcker and former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin (can you spell Hillary Clinton supporter?), not to mention Paul O'Neill (who wrote a kiss-and-tell about his days as George W. Bush's treasury secretary).

The Obama campaign understands full well that, despite his need to shore up his commander-in-chief credentials, he also needs to let voters know he can handle their economic anxieties.

Both fellows need some help, and they're getting it. In fact, it's ironic, in a way, that neither candidate's strong suit is the economy: McCain once famously admitted that it's not his area of expertise, and Obama has a very short history of dealing with national economic issues.

Read the rest of this story...

Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Jim

    The economy is beyond any one person's grasp. Too big and complex for one person to sort out. The role of government is to let us, the citizenry, run the economy by virtue of our investments and spending.

    The Fed plays and important role to be sure as does tax and subsidy decisions. On balance though our capitalist society makes the most important economic decisions everyday in the open marketplace. The area that seems to be out of control and hurting everyday Americans is our trade ploicies.

    Where was your car manufactured? Your house full of consumer godds...where were these manufactured? I think that part of the real estate problem is that we did not have the manufacturing jobs to support continued expansion.

    I hope that America embraces fair trade over anything goes free trade. The person that is going to buy your house when it is time to sell it will need a good payiing job to afford it.

    July 30, 2008 at 8:39 am |
  2. J.V.hodgson

    ERR excuse me guys how can he "stage manage "200,000 German people turning up in Berlin? Ooops sorry he has too much cash in hand and paid em to turn up is what you might say next libel etc laws permitting.
    Second as you point out neither candidate knows all about economics,nor are they labour market specialists, health issue guru's, or experts in everything as you the media seem to demand purportedly on behalf of voters. Nor is an ex Naval airforce captain and POW, respected as he should be, the equivalent of a Petraeus or Powell. Nor does Obama need to be the top whizz in economics.
    They both have policies and will have a whole gammut of Secretaries of state on behalf of thier respective political parties philosophy and outllook to advise and consent. Young and naive, old and forgetful, experience and inexperience and judgment are I suppose fair game, but you have flogged this to death already.
    We the puny voter has to decide which policy from each candidate works best overall and it will be an individual perception.
    Debate the respective candidates policy stances fairly, reasonably, and accurately and more frequently and in detail and dramatise the differences if you must to keep your audiences attention span, but stop the flag pin, hand on heart and visiting injured soldiers , or death by association debates for or against of either candidate, it demeans you as media professionals, and the voters.

    July 30, 2008 at 8:17 am |
  3. Kanaka Hawaii

    One of Obama's strong suits seems to be his ability to assemble national experts and have them come together to discuss and offer resolutions or opinons about the crucial issues confronting US. I think he assumes that people will notice these openly public forums during his campaign as the mode by which he will carry-on as President. But the downside to that is his determination, focus and self assurance can also be perceived as being arrogant, presumptuous or self-serving. In a way, it is self-serving because obviously he has to win the Presidency before he can implement his policies. He also recognizes that his candidacy is historic on an international scale, so he has to fill that suit with the image of what people want and expect to see and hear. His campaign is portraying an icon of the slogan "What you see is what you get." So far it's working. As for McCain, he has no strong suit, but if he did I doubt that he'd be able to remember it.

    July 30, 2008 at 8:06 am |
  4. Brian J

    Both candidates have been spending too much time talking about foreign affairs. Most of the populations agrees that our attempt at coercive democracy in Iraq was a stupid endeavor, and badly
    handled. John McCain said on Larry King recently that he had said all along that victory was easy there...a trillion dollars spent in Iraq that would be better spent rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. The opportunity cost of the war in Iraq is huge for this country-we could have had a coast to coast high speed rail system for that amount. I laughed when I saw that John McCain's trip to an oil rig in Louisiana recently was canceled because of an oil spill, not bad weather as reported by cnn.
    I'm surprised there isn't more attention paid to the idea of importing Brazilian ethanol. Cheaper than oil, although it does highlight the fact our energy policy for the last 8 years has been giving tax breaks to big oil. Can't wait for Honda to introduce hydrogen powered Accords to the Northwest-in Southern California only right now. Alternative fuel cars require up to 90% less maintenance-brakes and tires mainly. Solutions like alternative fueled cars will be in the market 2009 or 2010.

    Given the fact that Republicans are responsible for the economic mess we are in, it's surprising Democrats aren't hammering them on that daily.

    July 30, 2008 at 3:31 am |
  5. Jules

    You dont have to be a huge Obama supporter or even like him. But after everything that has happend since Obama won the nomination how can anyone support John McCain?! It is apparent that his biggest concern is this so called "war" in Iraq. Which he has NEVER given a truthful answer as to what victory even is. He constantly mentions the surge and how it 'led to the sunni awakening' (i love Rachel Maddow and how she corrected this timeline blunder), and he is constantly confused on the one area which he is supposed to be an "expert". What makes this guy an expert?! Someone...Anyone...tell me! Neither him or Obama have any real substance when asked about ecomonic issues. Because nothing they do will have any immediate affect. But McCains looks and sounds like the biggest idiot because of his "All Of A Sudden" support for drilling off shore (which will do nothing until im 60 or so), his misinterpretation of Obama and raising taxes(Obama wants to lower taxes for the middle class) and oh god his horrible commercials that have next to nothing factual when slamming Obama. Get real people. The most honest thing Obama has said during his campaign is that McCain in office will be another Bush term. Do you really want TWO bumbling republican idiots in office back to back??

    July 30, 2008 at 12:17 am |

    We need someone different i am a Obama supporter i know he is the man for the job. He will have the best and brightest people to help him. I can't wait for Nov 4, 2009 and then Jan 20 ,2009 what a day that will be with god's help. God bless America

    July 29, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  7. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Jan from Wood Dale IL............

    You can't be serious..........It's the Bush Adm. that set the failed energy policies of the last 8 years. Congress sends bills up and they get sent back or vetoed. When a Dem President is in place with a Dem majority, all of Wash and the Hill will change. The economy will prosper because things will get done. Earmarks? They will always be there. They don't add up to what we spend in Iraq in a single month................

    July 29, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  8. Michael

    Maritza-You think McBush is the most qualified old fart to lead this country, then you must be smoking something. Do you know that McBush is so immoral that he dumped his first wife for Cindy when he realized that she is incapacitated?. How about McBush 26 years in the senate without ever proposing an energy bill? How about his many flip flops? How about him not attending all six meetings that the senate armed services has held within the past two years? How about him not knowing that Iran is not in the border of Parkistan and Afghanistan? and finally , How about Cindy theft of medication?. We don't want a thief in the WH.

    July 29, 2008 at 10:58 pm |
  9. ronald

    The problems remain that media broadcasts are always driving the
    hype about McCain or Obama and ALWAYS forgetting that
    Would like alittle more non bias reporting of those other candidates that are running for President.
    Yes, this nation does possess more than two parties, and media outlets need to become and remain assured that this nation needs its reporting to project that as well.
    As to neither Obama nor McCain having a strong economical platform, based upon their stances, this nation is going to step three steps backwards and only one step forward.
    Wanna solve oil crisis, drilling off coast of US and grabbing some Alaska oil is like Brazil's govt during the OPEC 1970s having decided to say, yeah, we want to pay more today and especially tomorrow, but Brazil sought sugarcane ethanol and our nation embraces that stupid choice of corn and grain based ethanol.
    Hey, get them cars running on sugarbeet ethanol, farmers can still get govt subsidies like now with corn ethanol, but switching to sugarbeets is better cause nobody is going to make food more expensive than that of having chose corn.
    You want economic growth, think of what you want your future generations to enjoy or not.
    They certainly are not going to be pleased with the choices of today

    July 29, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  10. Lamont austin

    Cindy from ga, what R U talking about? as usual you put out these statements that have no true reflection about his exceptance, dont you watch Anderson Coopers show or do you jusy blog? You say Obama knows nothing about the economy but all he's done is help people with money and community problems.
    Why are you so against someone who really wants to help?

    July 29, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  11. James Dylan

    Has there been some new invention that completely negates our need for oil? No. Then drill, it doesn't matter if it takes 30 years to bring it to market we will still need it then. And I'm sure we can get it before technology is invented and distributed to the mass. We need to get our independence first and foremost. It is going take all of the ideas to reach this goal. Wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas, etc.

    July 29, 2008 at 10:39 pm |
  12. Annie Kate

    Someone with expertise in the economy needs to step forward and be used to solve this big mess. Otherwise a lot of people are going to continue to suffer without enough money to both pay their gas and buy food and keep their house. One of our past presidents ran on the motto "A chicken for every pot" – if the economy keeps getting worse we very soon won"t have a pot to put the chicken in.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 29, 2008 at 9:44 pm |
  13. Larry

    Obama has an affinity towards his economic hero Karl Marx.

    July 29, 2008 at 9:29 pm |
  14. Jo Anne Cummings

    I was hoping one of these guys might have come up with a plan....still waiting.

    July 29, 2008 at 9:29 pm |
  15. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    derek.............I agree

    McCains hand in that S&L scandal needs to be brought up again. And he needs to explain himself. His wife went into depression and prescription drugs because of the scandal coming to light. The media scandalized everyone Obama has ever bumped into...........it's time they brought up the people McCain has actually been a crook with................

    July 29, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  16. Joy in NY

    A president cannot be all knowing, they are not God. All presidents have advisors, question is who is advising him.

    Obama '08

    July 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm |
  17. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Again, it's funny to hear people criticize Obama for going to Europe when he was challenged to go there. 200,000 people showed up to see the next President of the US speak................seems like his trip was pretty successful to me.........Oh, and on the economy issue.......isn't that why the President has professional economists give them the scoop to make the decisions? This country re-elected Bush............looks like he didn't know much about anything let alone the economy............nice job people.........you gonna vote for another Republican?

    July 29, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  18. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    I've read that Obama has over 300 foreign policy advisors. I wonder how many economic advisors he's going to need? Obama wants to give out another round of stimulus checks. Doesn't that just increase our deficit? I had to laugh hearing Nancy Pelosi boast about how when Democrats took the majority in Congress, the first thing they did was increase the minimum wage. However, they didn't factor in the escalating cost of living to their formula. So now while the minimum wage worker continues to struggle, the Congress hands out more subsidies to highly profitable oil companies and provides bailouts for those financial companies responsible for the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

    Even though McCain appears the weaker of the two candidates, he would continue to strongly oppose Congressional earmarks and has set a goal for a balanced budget. McCain's plan for off-shore drilling would lesson our being dependency on the Middle East, and could help stablize the price for crude oil. His plan may not be perfect, but it's a start in the right direction.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:57 pm |
  19. Wendy Ontario, Canada

    I was impressed to see Obama working with so many Economic schollars yesterday, shows he put the economy first before running off to campaign.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:49 pm |
  20. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    The difference between McCain and Obama's economic knowledge is that McCain admits he's weak at it, while Obama pretends he knows what he's talking about.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:25 pm |
  21. Will Rhodes

    Personally I think the Americans in this election are quite blind! After all the gaffs, flip-flops, admitted non-understanding of the US economy, Americans still say they will vote for John McCain!?

    This election will be about the economy, everybody knows that – blathering on about Iraq will only show the American people that Mr McCain is interested in only one thing – and that isn't both the US economy and the American people.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  22. lampe

    Derek, for your information there was never any evidence to prove that Sen. McCain was invovled in anyway. I believe he was never ever charged with any crime. Yes, Obama really knows how to solve all the problems of The World, raise taxes, raise taxes, raise taxes real good idea, just put more of us into the poor house. McCain is the only one outside of HRC, who had ideas, on how to manage this, Obama has no ideas of his own so he steals everyone elses.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  23. JC- Los Angeles

    It's quite apparent that Obama and McCain both lack economic vision and first hand experience on how best to generate economic prosperity.

    Obama's finances were a mess until he received book advances, a great real estate deal compliments of Tony Rezko and a sweetheart loan; how does this make him qualified to run our nation?

    McCain, however, one ups Obama by simply marrying into money; how he feels he's qualified to articulate an economic vision is anyones guess.

    Each candidate can surround himself with a variety of advisors, however, a mere cast of characters does guarantee one big, happy, joyful economic recovery.

    IndyMac, the proud holder of our nation's second largest bank collapse, had a board that included: Lyle Gramley (former Governor of the Federal Reserve); Bruce Willison (Dean of UCLA School of Management) and Pat Haden (former Rhodes Scholar, football player and Private Equity hack); great job guys.

    After being failed by almost every leader, politician and executive for the past eight years, the American people deserve better than these two candidates and photo ops of a bunch of high priced hacks.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:12 pm |
  24. John

    As in the past you can not put much stock in summer polls. After VP selections things will get pretty interesting, and depending on how the "experts " perceive these choices will really bring the public opinion into the fold. Nevertheless, nothing is really going to get rolling until after the conventions and the debates will show everyones true colors on the issues at hand. I use to respect John McCain, but he sold his soul to get the nomination and it will come back to haunt him in contradiction to his once proud and cooperative past. Obama will have to show true substance in all his eloquent speeches he delivered in the primaries. I hope he is prepared and can deliver because he is the only real hope we have left right now at reaching across the aisle and making Congress and the Senate go to work. McCain used to be good at that but he ruined his established good will contradicting it to get the nomination.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:10 pm |
  25. penny

    " It wasn't GW Bush strong suit either, but many people voted for him, (I didnot, I wasn't that ignorant) which was a decision of almost epic peril for the U.S. Also if McCain gets into the white house The only thing he talks about is being a POW. No one won the war in Vietnam and he has admited he knows nothing about the economy. His advisors would be OLD LIKE him. U.S. would be on a TITANIC voyage worst than Bush. Obama is African American but money is green. They don't complain about your race if you need those dollar bills. Ignorance does not pay mortgages and utility bills."""""

    July 29, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  26. Maritza

    Fact, nothing is his real stong suit , Obama has no concrete /trackable much less notable and significant accomplishments, along side McCain with his list of hands on experience , long track of serving his country , and a very important attribute , the ability to to survive under horrific circumstance and yet maintain a commitment to work hard for America, and serve this nation, Obama and possibly Kaine to represent this country ,? how? the blind leading the blind "with their mutual lack of real job related skill, judgement and experience , now that is a scary scene , Too much power for someone who has all of the charm of an American Idol contestant.


    July 29, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  27. Larry

    I thought that Obama had all the economy gurus on his payroll and that McCain had to fire all his abacus users for saying we are a bunch of whiners in a mental recession.

    I wanna hear no more talk of something bad happening to obama, I guess kennedy was shot for being Irish.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  28. Toni Mills Baker

    I am a Hurricane Katrina survivor. A young mother of 3 children who is trying to rebuild my life with no recourse. I am homeless, there is no housing available. The housing available I cannot afford due to high rental prices, what is some one like me to do in a situation like this? I work part time while looking for full time employment. The world has seem to have forgotten about New Orleans and citizens like me. I want to know what happened to all those Katrina donations, I did not receive any, nor did any one I know. The system needs to look at what happened to those donations and whom did it benefit, because everyone I know still needs help even now 3 years later. 9th ward New Orleans 4 ever.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  29. Ramsi Hashash

    The polls will change in early September after each party has had its convention and each party has officially chosen its nominee. The polls will receive a further boost when each nominee has announced his running partner. The filling of the VP position will be for the first time in maybe over 30 years a crucial and possibly decisive in getting either candidate over the 50% mark.
    I truly believe that Obama has the chance to get around 55% to 58% all depending how dirty the elections will turn out to be after the conventions
    Of course, even though it sounds crazy, it all depends if Obama will not have, let me call it, and accident. Let us be honest, there are forces out there who cannot imagine to have an African American President in the White House.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  30. Donald

    I think OBama is doing a smart thing in getting advises from smart economic minded advisers it shows real leadership ability when you can listen to other. I do disagree with Obama about the offshore drilling. If it is not just a temporary type solution. I Think we should drill our own oil and listen To T BOONE PICKEN

    July 29, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  31. Ramsi Hashash

    The polls will change in early September after each party has had its convention and each party has officialy choosen its nominee. The polls will receive a further boost when each nominee has announced his running partner. The filling of the VP position will be for the first time in maybe over 30 years a crucial and possibly decissive in getting either candidate over teh 50% mark.

    I truly believe that Obama has the chance to get around 55% to 58% all depending how dirty the elections will turn out to be after the conventions

    Of course, even though it sounds crazy, it all depends if Obama will not have, let me call it, and accident. Let us be honest, there are forces out there who can not imagine to have an African American President in the White House.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  32. John

    Why isn't more being reported on how insignificant all the hubbub about new drilling offshore ... for oil is actually going to impact our present catastrophe nor how long, admittedly so by even President Bush's energy advisors, this measure will take? It is obvious this is just political banter by McCain to somehow try and put Obama in a negative light, when in fact he is just being practical by all measures. Yet, something like 73% of Americans favor this idea. Do these people know the truth about this scheme, and isn't your responsibility to deliver the facts to them? I am concerned about this not because I'm an over zealous tree hugger or anything like that, but because this idea is archaic and just plain stupid. We need real solutions right now. I like your show and you seem like a very good person. I just want you to keep up with " Keeping them honest " . By the way, I work in the oil & gas industry so the idea would help me maybe but Wow, are you kidding me.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:34 pm |
  33. Faith Pa

    No matter which one gets elected it will be business as usual because the same "insiders" will be "advising" the winner. Neither are smart enough to handle the diaster that is the American Economy. Maybe Alan Greenspan needs to be considered for VP or even Bill Gates, Warren Buffet someone who can run a business that is really what the financial management of this country is.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  34. derek

    when talking about the economy. does everyone have amnesia. why do you not share with viewers john McCains role in the savings and loan scandal, with the Keating five.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
  35. frieda

    Obama thinks American people are stupid and that's why he resorted to "stage-managed extravaganza"...he hardly said anything that a high-school kid could not have said.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  36. Kristina

    It's not about whether the candidates themselves can fix the economy, but if the candidates are capable of hiring the appropriate people to fix the problems in the economy. Obama's "Economic Roundtable" was a good start – just give it some time.

    July 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm |
  37. Cindy

    Yep...it is funny that they both have no idea about the economics of this country! They better get to learning really fast! LOL Nah...they can always have a group of people who know economics backwards and forwards to help them with it. So it's really no big deal. Don't every pres. do that anyway?

    And BTW...Obama's overseas trek just showed his ineptness IMO. He didn't charm everyone!


    July 29, 2008 at 6:43 pm |