Romney, Obama Campaigns Spin New Jobless Report

Posted October 5th, 2012 at 12:15 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have traded barbs over a new economic report that shows a better-than-expected drop in the nation's jobless rate.

The report, which was released on Friday, says the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, marking the first time the rate has dipped below the 8 percent level in 44 months.

Mr. Romney reacted shortly after the figures were released, saying, “This is not what a real recovery looks like.”

In a statement, he said the “real” unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent if it included those who have “dropped out of the labor force.”

Later Friday, Mr. Obama told supporters at a Virginia rally that news of the drop in unemployment shows the country is “moving forward” and “has come too far to turn back now.”

The president acknowledged that more work needs to be done, but said Friday's news was “certainly not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points.”

Earlier Friday, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger said the new figures show the U.S. economy is “continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

Mr. Romney is campaigning in Virginia and Florida on Friday. His campaign organizers are hoping to capitalize on his strong performance in the presidential debate.

The Republican candidate, whose poll numbers were lagging before Wednesday's debate, told a crowd of supporters Thursday that President Barack Obama can no longer be trusted with the struggling U.S. economy.

“Why is it that the middle class is still buried in this country? Why is it that we have 23 million people out of work? Why is it half our kids coming out of college can't find good jobs? Why is it one out of six people have fallen into poverty? Why is it that when he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps and today 47 million people are on food stamps?”

Later in the day, Mr. Romney attempted to repair the damage done by a secretly taped video in which he said 47 percent of Americans saw themselves as victims and were dependent on the government. Romney told Fox News the comments were “completely wrong.” Earlier, he had said the remarks were “inelegantly stated.”

President Obama accused his rival of changing his campaign positions to a more centrist perspective during the debate.

“When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But I know it couldn't have been Mitt Romney, because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy, and yet the fellow on stage last night, who looked like Mitt Romney, said he didn't know anything about that.”

Opinion polls suggest that Mr. Romney won the first debate of the general election, which Nielsen ratings agency says was seen by over 67 million people. That represents an increase of 28 percent from the first debate in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Many Democrats were upset that the president did not bring up Mr. Romney's “47 percent” remarks during the first presidential debate

Thursday was the first time that the former Massachusetts governor has disavowed the comments. Previously, he said they were “not elegantly stated,” but that he stood by them.