Earlier today, President Obama twice commented at a press conference in the White House that "the private sector is doing fine." He has since made further comments about the economy--but he has yet to say anything specific about the private sector.
"It's absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine," Obama said this afternoon, following up his comments from this morning. "That’s the reason I had a press conference. That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, too many homes underwater and that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.”
"Now, I think if you look at what I said this morning and what I've been saying consistently over the last year, we've actually seen some good momentum in the private sector," Obama said in his follow-up remarks. "We've seen 4.3 million jobs created -- 800,000 this year alone -- record corporate profits. And so that has not been the biggest drag on the economy."
Specifically, Obama did not say the private sector is struggling, which would have contradicted his "the private sector is doing fine" remark. Instead, the president chose to use his follow-up remarks to focus on the economy writ large--and to say that the private sector "has not been the biggest drag on the economy."
Obama's comments at the press conference were off-the-cuff, delivered in response to a specific question from the press. And though there's reason to believe that his reported 'backtrack' and a 'clarification' were thought through, they appear to have missed their intended mark.
Obama's first comments, therefore, about the private sector still stand and remain uncontradicted by the president himself.