LA mayor: "We are better off" than four years ago

(CBS News) One day after one surrogate to President Obama said people are not better off than they were four years ago, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had a different take. He said the country is indeed better off than it was when Mr. Obama took office.

"We are better off," Villaraigosa said on "CBS This Morning," noting that President Obama reversed job loss and turned them into job gains. "We've had 29 consecutive months of growth - 4 1/2 million jobs. In fact, more jobs in that time than the 8 years under [President] Bush."

"If you look at how we got here, how we got into this deficit, we got into two wars we didn't pay for, [and] the Bush tax cuts took us here in great part," he argued.

Villaraigosa admitted that individuals, especially the unemployed, are not better off, but "as a nation we are better off."

"Yes, we are better off, but we got to keep on working harder," he added.

The Los Angeles mayor, who is also the chair of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (set to begin Tuesday), said that "there are two clear choices ahead" in this election. He said Republican nominee Mitt Romney's plan would "continue the Bush policies" by cutting $5 trillion in tax revenue.

"I believe that the choice with President Obama, that invests in working people, invests in the middle class - that moves us forward."

CBS News' political director John Dickerson said Monday on "CBS This Morning" that the key question of this election is if voters are better off than they were four years ago. He added that it puts the Obama campaign in a challenging spot. (Watch John Dickerson's analysis on the left.)

"It's tricky, if you say things are better off, you're in conflict with the majority of the country who don't think things are better off and who don't think President Obama's policies have made things better, and that's the tension that will be throughout this convention," he said.

Asked about the Republicans' enthusiasm advantage, Villaraigosa said the Democratic convention will excite voters.

"Our job is to get that enthusiasm up and that's what that convention is all about," he said. "It's going to frame the election [and] it's going to crystallize the choices before us."

"When they realize what's at stake here, they're going to get excited."

Dickerson, however, said a "wet blanket" is awaiting the president. The morning after he gives his major speech Thursday night, the jobs report comes out, where unemployment is expected to remain at 8.3 percent.

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