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Obama: What GDP downgrade?

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

No wonder President Obama is enjoying the campaign trail: He can ignore his problems back home and focus on his message of "Forward."

First it was the assassination of the U.S. ambassador to Libya that the president chose not to blame on terrorism. Today it was the dramatic downgrade of second quarter GDP to a worrisome 1.3 percent that the president looked past as he campaigned on a message of economic improvement.

Campaigning in Virginia Beach, Va., today, Obama largely avoided the economy, though he did concede that it's not great. "We're not where we need to be -- not yet," said Obama.

His comments came after the disturbing downgrade that was even lower than economists feared. Worse, personal consumption was downgraded too, leading some economists to express concern about the weak recovery continuing.

Following the pattern of other presidents running for reelection in troubled times, Obama has ducked other issues on the campaign trail and in interviews, notably not blaming terrorism for the Libyan attack, even though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has fingered al Qaeda.

His omission of the new GDP numbers drew a retort from GOP opponent Mitt Romney. Campaigning in Springfield, Va., Romney said:

"Right now, Russia's economy is growing at about 4 percent per year. That's their GDP growth. Ours was just revised last quarter down to 1.3 percent per year--about a quarter or a fifth the rate of Russia's. This is a real challenge for us. And this is not just one quarter. This has been going on now for years. China's growing much faster than we. Russia's growing faster than we. Our economy needs to be reinvigorated. And the president has laid out his plan. It's a continuation of the old plan. We can't afford four more years of the last four years, all right?"