WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has dismissed suggestions that his cerebral style and exotic background made it tough for him to empathize with the economic fears of heartland Americans.
Obama’s critics have frequently argued that his intellectual and academic leadership style or his upbringing in Hawaii, and for several years as a boy in Indonesia, make it hard for him to connect with everyday citizens.
“I think when the unemployment rate is still high and people are having a tough time, it doesn’t matter if I was green, it doesn’t matter if I was purple. I think people would still be frustrated and understandably so,” Obama said in a town-hall style meeting on the economy on CNBC television.
“If you are out of work right now, the only thing you’re going to be hearing is, when do I get a job? If you’re about to lose your home — all you’re thinking about is, when can I get my house?”
Obama said he believed that Americans realized that he grew up in a single parent family and had financed his education, that culminated at Harvard Law school, with scholarships.
The president, who leads a Democratic Party fearing a beating over the slowly recovering economy in November’s congressional elections, also denied that he was guilty of vilifying the US business community.
“In every speech, every interview that I have made, I have constantly said that what sets America apart is that we have got the most dynamic free market economy in the world and that has to be preserved,” he said.