Obama ‘Threads the Needle’

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: My colleague Terry Moran did an interview with President Obama today in Florida -- check out ABC’s “Nightline” tonight for the full interview.

One of many interesting tidbits: The president talked about striking a balance between building a public sense of urgency and sounding alarm bells.

He’s gotten some criticism for his dire warnings, particularly from Republicans, who argue that the president is trying to scare Congress into passing an $800 billion stimulus package.

Here's the relevant part of the transcript:

TERRY MORAN: “Take a step back -- you've been sounding some very dire warnings about the economy in recent days. How close do you think the country is to a kind of economic catastrophe that you're warning them?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Well, you know, I'm, I'm constantly trying to thread the needle between sounding alarmist but also letting the American people know the circumstances that we're in. And the fact of the matter is, is that we are in not just an ordinary recession. We are in a perfect storm of financial problems and now, a decline in worldwide demand that is resulting in huge numbers of jobs being shed, the lowest consumer confidence we've seen, credit locked up.

“And so this was a big difficult situation. Now, I think we've got to keep perspective. We're not going through the Great Depression. I know there have been some analogies there but when FDR took over, unemployment at that time was 30 percent, as opposed to 7.5 or 7.6.

“And so, you know, I think it's important to recognize we've still got enormous assets. We've got the same workforce that we did that's as productive as it's ever been. We've still got some of the best universities in the country and you know, a wonderful infrastructure and some great companies.”

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