Soledad O'Brien Thinks Obama -- Not Governors -- Should Get Credit for States With Low Unemployment

Soledad O'Brien apparently thinks President Obama should get the credit for states with low unemployment, as she pressed two Republican governors to admit on Friday's Starting Point.

Interviewing Gov. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa), O'Brien mentioned his state's low unemployment rate and asked "Do you think that the governors get the credit for that or shouldn't President Obama get the credit for that?" She phrased the question as though Obama should not only receive some, but the whole of the credit for the state's low unemployment.

She asked the same question of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R). "[I]f it's jobs, jobs, jobs, and I started by saying your state unemployment number is 5.6 percent, which is a number that lots of states would love to have, do you get credit or doesn't the President get credit for that?"

Republicans have touted that seven of the ten U.S. states with the lowest unemployment rate have Republican governors.

Conversely, O'Brien asked the Democratic governor of Maryland only what he thought about governors deserving "all the credit," not phrasing the question as though they should receive all the credit. "Do you think the governors deserve all the credit for how states do?" she asked, to which Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) predictably answered no.

She also used an O'Malley talking point later in the show – states with low unemployment are doing well because they have "the greatest amount of minerals."

"[A]as we heard from Governor O'Malley, right? He believes that states that have more minerals, that's correlated to how well they do," she argued. "So, some states do well because that they're just historically have done well. They have more minerals, et cetera."

"And by the way, four years ago, they may have had a different governor. I mean, you'd have to do an entire assessment of that," she responded to the Republican argument of why some states have better unemployment rates than others.

A brief transcript of the segments, which aired on Starting Point on June 13, is as follows:

[7:18 a.m. EDT]

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Let's start with jobs, your state has an unemployment rate – number that is significantly better than many in the country at 6.8 percent, I believe. When you look at states across the nation, seven out of ten of the best recovering states are run by Republican, three out of 10 are run by Democrats. And it's been a big talking point obviously for the GOP. Do you think the governors deserve all the credit for how states do?

Gov. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D-Md.): No, but I think they each have a responsibility to move their states forward to great jobs opportunity, and make their economies expand. Look, we're all in this together. The states that have been able to come through this recession virtually without any sort of a blip are those states that have the greatest amount of minerals, Soledad. But for the rest of us, we have to make tough decisions in order to create new opportunities and new jobs in a fast and changing economy.

 

[7:39 a.m. EDT]

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Your state unemployment figures are very good, 5.6 percent is the last number I've read. President Obama, though, when I look at the polls, and we just showed them a moment ago – he's leading in polling in your state. Do you think it's likely that in fact, the President will take the state of Virginia come the election?

Gov. BOB MCDONNELL (R-Va.): No. And I say that –

O'BRIEN: I'm looking at the polls while you say that. You say no, but I'm looking at the polls, they say yes.

MCDONNELL: Well, there's only one that matters and it's not today, it's four months from now. And that's a much better position than about four months ago. Romney was down by about eight points and I think the more people examine this President's failed leadership and the impact of some of his energy and tax and regulatory policies in Virginia, and compare that with Mitt Romney's ideas, I think it gets better for Romney in Virginia.

This is still a right-of-center state. I won by 18 points a couple of years ago after Obama, and what I'm hearing on the ground from business people and from just the independent voter is this jobless record of 41 months over 8 percent. And a crushing national debt, are the things that are driving people towards Mitt Romney. I think it gets better every month for Romney.

O'BRIEN: But if it's jobs, jobs, jobs, and I started by saying your state unemployment number is 5.6 percent, which is a number that lots of states would love to have, do you get credit or doesn't the President get credit for that?

MCDONNELL: Well, here's the question. The CNBC poll just came out to show that 11 – or 12 out of the 15 states with the best business climates have Republican governors. So I would say if it was something President Obama was doing or this magic stimulus was creating all these jobs, you'd see that all over the place, Soledad, and you don't.

What you see is unemployment over 8.2 percent now almost going on 42 months. This President's policies of regulation, taxation, outsourcing jobs, being hostile to the free enterprise system, is not working.

But in states like mine, where really on a bipartisan basis our legislation working with me, putting policies in place, we've driven down the unemployment rate 2 percent in the last couple of years. So I think it's what the governors are doing that's making a lot of difference. It's not this President's policies. He's actually hurting us on energy and regulations, making it harder for businesses to grow.

 

[8:16 a.m. EDT]

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Your state's unemployment is low, 5.1 percent, I believe. Republicans have been very public in touting that seven out of 10 states with the best job rates are run by Republicans. Do you think that the governors get the credit for that or shouldn't President Obama get the credit for that?

GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD, (R) IOWA: Well, all you have to do is look at the state of Illinois right next door. They're a basket case, and they raised taxes. They have the biggest public debt of any state. They have the most unfunded liabilities on their pension system, and they're $4 billion behind in paying their bills on time.

Surrounded by states like Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, all getting our financial House in order, reducing the tax and regulatory burden. There's a big contrast. You can look at California as well. $17 billion in debt. They're following the Obama plan. It doesn't work. You can't borrow your way to prosperity.

The federal government has a $16 trillion national debt. Forty percent of the money they're spending is borrowed money. There is no way this can be sustained. We need a change.

(...)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: – as we heard from Governor O'Malley, right? He believes that states that have more minerals, that's correlated to how well they do.

CELESTE HEADLEE, host, The Takeaway: Right.

O'BRIEN: So, some states do well because that they're just historically have done well. They have more minerals, et cetera. And by the way, four years ago, they may have had a different governor. I mean, you'd have to do an entire assessment of that.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014