WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Friday backpedaled on a remark he made regarding the economy, first saying the private sector was "doing fine" and later it's not.
"The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we've created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine," Obama said in response to questions from reporters in the White House press room. "Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government -- oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in."
Obama appeared before reporters to press Congress to act on jobs legislation.
Republicans pounced on the remark, with presumptive Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney saying it showed Obama is "out of touch with reality."
Later during a press availability in the Oval Office with Philippines President Benigno Aquino, Obama clarified his earlier statement.
"Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That's the reason I had the press conference," Obama said when asked to respond to Romney's characterization.
"The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater. And that's precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.
"Now, I think if you look at what I said this morning and what I've been saying consistently over the last year, we've actually seen some good momentum in the private sector. We've seen 4.3 million jobs created -- 800,000 this year alone -- record corporate profits. And so that has not been the biggest drag on the economy."