Mitt Romney suggested on Friday that President Obama fire his top political adviser for minimizing the role unemployment will play in the presidential election.
Obama aide David Plouffe told reporters at a breakfast hosted by Bloomberg that he didn’t expect Americans to vote based on the raw unemployment rate, but rather their own personal sense of the economy.
“The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers,” Plouffe said. “People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’”
Romney, who has made the weak jobs market the central theme of his campaign, slammed Plouffe in a statement to reporters for showing “indifference” to the plight of the unemployed.
“Just this week, President Obama’s closest White House adviser said that ‘unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers’ do not matter to the average American,” Romney said. “If David Plouffe were working for me, I would fire him and then he could experience firsthand the pain of unemployment. His comments are an insult to the more than 20 million people who are out of work, underemployed or who have simply stopped looking for jobs. With their cavalier attitude about the economy, the White House has turned the audacity of hope into the audacity of indifference.”
Bill Burton, who runs pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA, noted on Twitter that Romney was accused of insensitivity to jobless Americans himself after the ultra-wealthy candidate joked “I’m also unemployed” in a campaign video.
“The man thinks unemployment is funny,” Burton said.
Update: Per Greg Sargent, The White House released the full transcript of Plouffe’s remarks for context. Taken as a whole the comments further indicate Plouffe was only referring to the unemployment rate as a number, not the broader jobs issue.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.