Surrogates for President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney took to the airwaves today to defend their respective candidates and hammer home themes that cropped up in the first presidential debate last week.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) traded barbs and defended their respective party candidates’ plans to fix the economy on “Fox News Sunday.”
Ayotte, going to bat for Romney, defended his tax plan and lauded his goal to work across the aisle to help jolt the economy. O’Malley defended the president’s record in slowing the rate of job loss that was taking place when Obama took office, as well as attacked Romney’s vague tax plan.
Ayotte was critical of Obama’s record on helping spark economic growth, saying Friday’s positive jobs report that showed a drop in unemployment was “no cause to celebrate” and that Obama’s budget will create “more taxation, more regulation and economic stagnation.”
“I think if you had told the American people four years ago that unemployment would be at 7.8 percent at this point during the president’s term, I don’t think anyone should be satisfied or happy with that,” Ayotte said.
O’Malley agreed that 7.8 percent unemployment is not ideal, but he said it’s better than what the American people had four years ago.
“It’s far better to be gaining jobs than losing 800,000 jobs a month as we were when George W. Bush was in office,” O’Malley said. “We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction.”
When moderator Chris Wallace said no president has been re-elected with unemployment this high or growth this low since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, O’Malley countered that no president has seen the kind of economic stagnation that Obama saw when entering office.
“No president since FDR was left bigger job losses, bigger unemployment, bigger deficit, more wars, than President Obama was by the failed policies of President George W. Bush,” O’Malley said.
When discussing how Romney would lower taxes and lower the deficit at the same time, O’Malley accused Romney of not being truthful about how his plan would work.
“We saw Big Bird meet the big lie,” O’Malley said, referring to Romney’s comment Wednesday night about how he would get rid of federal funding to PBS.
O’Malley added that if Romney’s plan would help balance the budget by eliminating tax loopholes, then Romney should be clear about which loopholes he would eliminate.
“Senator, I doubt very seriously you would agree [to] doing away or cutting the home mortgage deduction for middle-class Americans,” O’Malley said. “Gov. Romney has not said what his secret plan is to pay for these $5 trillion in tax cuts.”
Ayotte said Romney made it clear in Wednesday’s debate that middle-class families will not feel any of the burden of Romney’s tax plan.
“Gov. Romney made it clear that he was not going to lower the burden on upper-income individuals,” Ayotte said. “We all know, Chris, that upper-income Americans rely more heavily on loopholes.”
But even Wallace — who took a jab at the performance of Wednesday night’s debate moderator by saying he “was going to be tougher than [PBS’] Jim Lehrer” — agreed the American people have yet to hear which loopholes Romney would eliminate.
“Part of the problem is that I have asked Romney and [GOP vice presidential nominee Paul] Ryan repeatedly, I asked Ryan on this show last Sunday, ... ‘Where do you make up the $5 trillion in lower tax rates in terms of the deductions and the loopholes, how do you make it up?’ They refused to tell us. And independent experts say even if you took away all the deductions, it’s not going to add up to $5 trillion.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.