President Barack Obama is fighting back against GOP accusations that the economy has not improved during his presidency.
During an interview and town-hall event with PBS NewsHour in Elkhart, Indiana, a county that has seen a decrease of about 16 percent in unemployment since Obama visited in February 2009, he debunked claims made by Republicans that the economy has suffered under his leadership.
"We’re going to have to make sure that we make some good decisions going forward, but the notion that somehow America is in decline is just not born out by the facts," Obama said during the June 1 event.
Elkhart was hit hard by the recession and it may have been the stimulus package Obama passed in August 2009 that helped it avoid a more dire situation.
"Right now, things are going very well," Kyle Hannon, President of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, told PBS. "We’ve gone from high unemployment to having jobs we can’t fill."
"That means the economy is going again," Victoria Bowen, an Elkhart resident who works at an RV factory, said of the help wanted signs around town. "The economy was down, and he brought it back. I think Obama has done a good job."
Obama remarked that while the economy has improved, there are still those who are concerned about the future.
"Even though we’ve recovered, people feel like the ground under their feet isn’t quite as solid," Obama said. "If they’re feeling insecure, and they’re offered a simple reason to be more secure, people are going to be tempted by it."
His comment was likely aimed at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has run his campaign on the notion that the American economy is failing and in need of a resurgence.
Obama said he does not think Trump has the experience to lead the country or understands exactly how to boost an economy.
"He just says, 'I’m gonna negotiate a better deal,'" Obama said during the town hall. "Well how? How exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is, he doesn’t have an answer."
There are some residents of Elkhart who do not think the president has helped the economy.
“He’s come to Elkhart a few times, and it seems like he’s done nothing to try and make things better,” Steven Good, a homeless man who has found it difficult to get housing and work in the area, said. “He made lots of announcements but they were just words. Empty promises.”
Obama said the Republicans' comments about the economy being in trouble are made in order to draw support to their side.
“They repeat it a lot, but it’s not supported by the facts," Obama said during a speech at an Elkhart high school, which has took place on June 1, the Chicago Tribune reports. "But they say it anyway. Now why is that? It’s because it has worked to get them votes."
Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence admitted there has been recovery in the state, but he does not credit Obama’s policies.
The state has recovered "in spite of Obama’s policies," Pence said.
Obama said Republicans who think his policies are holding the economy back are "anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-trade, and … anti-change."
"My bigger point is to bust this myth of crazy, liberal government spending," Obama said. "Government spending is not what is squeezing the middle class."
While Obama did not directly campaign for the Democratic Party during his trip to Elkhart, he certainly talked up their accomplishments and ideas.
He praised former President Bill Clinton, whose wife Hillary is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, for cutting federal deficits, and showed support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont’s fight against a rigged system that favors the wealthy.
Obama said he thinks the Democratic nominee will be decided after the June 7 primary, which includes the nation’s largest state of California, and that he plans to campaign for the chosen nominee.