New York (CNN Business)The image President Donald Trump tries to sell is of a job-creating maestro.
In his telling, he built an economic powerhouse from nothing. Even with a pandemic raging, he has downplayed the coronavirus recession and exaggerated the recovery from it.”There has never been an administration that’s done what I’ve done,” he declared in Tuesday night’s rancorous presidential debate. “Before Covid came in, (it was) the greatest economy in history. Lowest unemployment numbers, everything was good.”It’s why in an evening of insults and interruptions, one moment stood out. Joe Biden looked directly in the camera and turned the “history-making” superlative against the president. He called Trump a jobs loser, and blamed his mishandling of the coronavirus response.Trump's job losses are the worst of any American president on record“He’s going to be the first president of the United States to leave office having fewer jobs in his administration than when he became president.”Read MoreFor emphasis, Biden repeated, directly to camera: “First one in American history.” Fact is, the coronavirus pandemic has put Trump in a jobs hole — since the month he took office. The coronavirus-related shutdowns this spring wiped out a decade of job gains. But even before coronavirus, Trump’s jobs record was never the miracle he claimed.New job creation had begun to slow, as compared to the end of Obama’s presidency. In Trump’s first three years in office, a net 6.7 million jobs were created, fewer than the 7.9 million new jobs created in the last three years of the Obama administration.It’s not the first jobs-losing presidential record, as Biden claimed, but it is the biggest.The only other president in the last 80 years to lose jobs between inauguration and the next election day was George W. Bush back in 2004. The dot-com bust led to a so-called jobless recovery.JUST WATCHEDThe economy: Full presidential debate video part 3ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
The economy: Full presidential debate video part 3 16:31Back then, 605,000 jobs vanished. This jobs hole blows that away.The jobless rate of 8.4% in August is expected to fall slightly when September’s figures are released Friday. But it would still be the highest jobless rate heading into an election in the last 75 years. Obviously, presidents get too much credit and too much blame for the economy on their watch. Bush had the dot-com bust and a terrorist attack; Barack Obama inherited a financial crisis; and now Trump has a pandemic that has altered every aspect of American life. But Biden took pains to blame Trump’s ineffective leadership during the crisis. “You can’t fix the economy until you fix the Covid crisis and he has no intention of doing anything about making it better for you all at home,” Biden said.Biden cited Trump’s lack of planning to safely open schools and his lack of leadership on mask-wearing.Still, never underestimate Trump’s marketing skills. His best approval ratings have consistently been on his handling of the economy. And Trump supporters often repeat his “best economy ever” hyperbole — even in the Midwest where his trade war has ravaged the farm economy.