Obama cheers economy as 'pretty darn great'

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Once reluctant to hype the U.S. economy's slow climb out of recession, President Barack Obama now is in cheerleader mode.

"America's pretty darn great right now," Obama told reporters Friday as he celebrated a strong jobs report that he said proved Republicans' "doomsday rhetoric" is little more than "fantasy."

Obama's brief remarks were a striking turn for a president who for most of his seven years in office has put on a sober face every time he spoke about the economy. Years of slow jobs growth and stagnant wages made the president and his team wary of seeming out of step with the plight of Americans still feeling the aftereffects of the recession.

Those concerns seemed a thing of the past on Friday. Hours after a new Labor Department report showed employers added 242,000 workers in February, Obama called reporters to the Roosevelt Room at the White House, and he didn't hold back.

"Our businesses have created jobs every single month since I signed that job-killing Obamacare bill," Obama said, digging at the Republicans' favorite name for his health-care law.

Obama didn't name names but showed he's been following the especially combative GOP nomination fight. He seemed ready to get off the sidelines.

The president said he looks forward to "forcefully" making his case for changing the conversation to a debate over investing in education and infrastructure and increasing wages, "not fantasy, not name-calling."