Thursday, September 1, 2011

President Obama punts to earlier time against NFL game after caving to GOP of televised jobs speech

Thursday, September 1st 2011, 7:42 PM

President Barack Obama will speak at 7 p.m. next Thursday rather than go up against the NFL season opener.
Alex Wong/Getty
President Barack Obama will speak at 7 p.m. next Thursday rather than go up against the NFL season opener.

WASHINGTON - President Obama backpedaled Thursday from going up against the NFL next week - after Republicans sacked his initial plans for a congressional address.

Obama will now deliver his televised jobs speech at 7 p.m. Thursday - a half-hour before NBC is set to launch its coverage of the NFL's opening game.

"I can assure you he will be completed before kickoff," Obama press secretary Jay Carney said.

The pre-primetime speech means that Americans on the West Coast will have barely finished their afternoon coffee when the President presents his plan to jumpstart the sagging economy.

Obama had already caved to House Speaker John Boehner's demands to bump the Capitol speech from Wednesday to Thursday - thus freeing up the news cycle for a long-scheduled GOP presidential debate.

"Boehner looks petty and Obama looks weak," a senior Democratic strategist complained. "We're right back to where we were before the summer vacation."

Both sides denied any partisan mischief, a claim few in a polarized national capital give any credence.

"These guys can't stand to treat him like he's the President," a Democratic official said, referring to the Republicans.

The unprecedented GOP rebuff - a Senate official told reporters Wednesday there is no record of a President being similarly turned down by Congress - was a poor omen for passing the package to boost the economy that Obama will lay out.

Carney scolded the media's "obsession" with the back-and-forth.

The American people, he said, "do not give a lick about what day next week the President speaks before Congress."

In fact, he added, "they recoil in disgust" over "the petty political gamesmanship that goes on" in Washington.

It didn't matter to Obama, he added, which night he speaks to the nation from the House chamber, where most of his economic initiatives have gone to die.

It's critical for Obama that his proposals be seen as credible solutions to create jobs and resuscitate the economy.

Public dissatisfaction with his economic stewardship has plummeted, along with his approval ratings.

For the first time this year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry leads Obama in a national 2012 election matchup. Other Republican candidates trail Obama by single digits.

A new Rasmussen national telephone survey shows Perry with 44% of the vote to Obama's 41%. Just over a week ago, the President held a three-point advantage over Perry.

A Quinnipiac Poll, meanwhile, found that 76% of the country thinks the economy has sunk back into recession and is getting worse instead of improving.

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