Dems attempt clean up on 'are you better off' question

(CNN) -- A day after prominent Democrats struggled to answer whether or not Americans were better off in 2012 than they were four years ago, party leaders on Monday, September 4th explained why the question didn't have an easy answer, and renewed their attempt to pin the blame for Americans' economic woes on the previous president.

Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, said on CNN's "Early Start" that Americans were "absolutely" better off than four years ago, portraying the president as a pilot who brought a crashing airplane out of a downward trajectory.

"The truth is that the American people know, we were literally a plane, the trajectory was towards the ground. He got the stick and pulled us up out of that decline," Woodhouse said.

His answer was far more definitive than many Democrats appearing on Sunday morning shows this week, who stumbled over answering the question of how Americans feel four years after Barack Obama was elected president.

"We're in a better position than we were four years ago," Obama's senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said on Fox News. He said improved jobs figures were an indication that the economy was headed in the right direction.

But on the direct question of whether or not voters themselves were better off, Axelrod demurred.

"I think the average American recognizes that it took years to create the crisis that erupted in 2008 and peaked in January of 2009," he said. "And it's going to take some time to work through it."

White House senior adviser David Plouffe had a similar answer on ABC, saying Republicans were simply "reciting all the statistics everyone's familiar with."

"I think everyone understands we were this close to a Great Depression," he said. "Because of the leadership of this president, we staved that off. We're beginning to recover."

And on CBS, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley admitted flat out that the answer was "no" to the question of whether "people are better off today than they were four years ago."

"But that's not the question of this election," O'Malley said. "The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars -- charged for the first time to credit cards, the national credit cards."

On Monday, O'Malley appeared on CNN, saying the country as a whole was "clearly better off" since jobs are being created on a monthly basis, rather than lost.

But he still stipulated that more work had to be accomplished in reversing what he called the "Bush recession."

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