Barack Obama Can't Tell You How Big the National Debt Is

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 19 2012 2:11 PM

Barack Obama Can't Tell You How Big the National Debt Is

This comment from the president is actually the kind of thing that can hobble a downballot campaign. I've seen many a sap congressional candidate fail to answer this question, and never live it down. But the Romneyshambles is so overwhelming that David Letterman can ask the president about the number on the debt clock and nobody will really notice.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

LETTERMAN: Do you remember what that number was?
OBAMA: No, I don't remember what the number was precisely.
LETTERMAN: See, if this was me, and I got the credit card company calling every day, I'm scared.

The Republican National Convention installed a debt clock at their convention, and it ticked ominously all week, in full view of the press. The goal, I thought, was to reignite the debt issue that had defined much of 2011, that will break wide open again after the election. The Romney-Ryan campaign is not the first to try this strategy.

For it to work, you really need the other guy to look callous about spending. Go to it, Romney!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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