This year, both President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have claimed that the “fundamentals” of the economy “are strong,” McCain doing so as late as yesterday. But in today’s White House briefing, spokeswoman Dana Perino — in a tense exchange — refused to side with McCain’s latest assessment:
Q You didn’t directly answer the question about whether the fundamentals of the economy are sound –
PERINO: I answered it the way I was going to answer it, and I’ll answer it the same way again. So — and if you –
Q Why are you — why won’t you direct –
PERINO: Because, Keith –
Q I’ve never heard someone not answer that question directly, from the podium here, that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. Are they, or not?
PERINO: What I said is that we have the strength to be able to deal with this crisis in our economy. And I know that you’re not asking the question in the forum of a 2008 campaign, but I know as soon as I say something you’re going to turn it around and it will be a part of the 2008 campaign, and I’m not going to play the game.
“We have a mixed picture,” Perino concluded.