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Economic issues sidelined in US presidential primary

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-02-11 07:27

Economic issues sidelined in US presidential primary

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, and his wife Jane, left, wave to the crowd as they take the stage during a primary night watch party at Concord High School, Tuesday, Feb 9, 2016, in Concord, N.H. [Photo/IC]

NASHUA -- As Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders surged Tuesday to their victories in the New Hampshire primary, the second presidential contest in the US, voters are still unsure about their positions on economic issues, which are so far sidelined in the debates.

During the New Hampshire campaign, tons of questions were thrown to the candidates at the town hall meetings in the "Granite State" on a string of issues from anti-terrorism to gun control, while discussions about the economy was largely missing.

The same thing happened at the televised presidential debates.

This is in stark contrast with what happened four or eight years ago when economic issues dominated the campaign amid the worst financial crisis in decades.

Eight years on, the US unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent, less than half of its peak during the crisis. The economic output grew 2.4 percent in 2015, quite remarkable among advanced economies.

After the bullish job data was released last Friday, President Barack Obama seized the opportunity and touted the United States has right now the strongest and the most durable economy in the world.

"The economy is doing reasonably well, although not spectacularly well," said Joseph Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based think-tank.

"So it's good enough for Republicans not to have an angle of attack, but it's not so good as Democrats can brag about it," he added.

Ted Luszey, who lives in Hudson town of New Hampshire for decades, said he did not find lives getting easier though the job data is improving.

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