CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Flinching in the face of economic weakness, President Barack Obama's top aides refused to say Sunday in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention if Americans are better off than they were four years ago.
Obama campaigned in Colorado and Vice President Joe Biden in Pennsylvania as their senior surrogates sought to deflect discomforting questions and turn them into criticism of Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
"The Romney path would be the wrong path for the middle class, the wrong path for this country," said David Plouffe, one of Obama's top White House aides.
But responding to the question that has become a staple of presidential campaigns, he sidestepped when asked if Americans are better off than when Obama took office.
"We've clearly improved ... from the depths of the recession," he said.
Planeloads of delegates flew into their convention city for two days of receptions before their first meeting in the Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday. Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets around the hall, protesting what they call corporate greed as well as U.S. drone strikes overseas said to kill children as well as terrorists.
Biden, campaigning in York, Pa., hit Romney on foreign policy.
"He said it was a mistake to end the war in Iraq and bring all of our warriors home," the vice president said. "He said it was a mistake to set an end date for our warriors in Afghanistan and bring them home. He implies by the speech that he's ready to go to war in Syria and Iran."