Maryland's Democratic governor acknowledges Americans not better off 4 years later

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Sunday that Americans are not better off than they were four years ago, answering the question that other Obama surrogates tried to avoid as it repeatedly came up on the weekend talk shows.

O’Malley, a Democrat who will be speaking at the party’s convention this week in Charlotte, addressed the issue on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“No,” he said when asked if Americans were better off. He added: “But that's not the question of this election. The question -- without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars, charged for the first time to … the national credit card.”

The question was asked several times on the Sunday talk shows, after Mitt Romney said in his Thursday nomination speech that Americans were doing worse.

"This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else's fault. This president can tell us that the next four years he'll get it right," he said. "But this president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office." 

On Monday, O’Malley backtracked by saying the country is “clearly” better off than four years ago.

 “We are clearly better off as a country, because we are now creating jobs rather than losing jobs,” he said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “We have not recovered all that we lost in the Bush recession,” he added.

Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod argued on “Fox News Sunday” that "we're in a better position than we were four years ago." 

"The average American recognizes that it took years to create the crisis that erupted in 2008 ... and it's going to take some time to work through it," he said.

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, on ‘Face the Nation,’ made a similar case.

“In terms of the question, ‘are people better off today than they were four years ago?’ I just want to remind you what was happening four years ago at this time. In the quarter before the president took office, we lost three million jobs. Our country was bleeding,” she said. “That's what was happening before the president took office.”