President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney offered dueling responses to Friday’s mediocre jobs report, pivoting the presidential race back to the economy with four months to go until the election.
The Labor Department reported that the economy added 84,000 jobs in June, a slight increase over the 77,000 jobs which were added in May. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.2 percent.
To Romney, the number represented a “kick in the gut.”
“The president’s policies have not gotten America working again, and the president’s gonna have to stand up and take responsibility for it,” Romney told reporters gathered at a hardware store in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. “I know he’s been planning on going across the country and celebrating what he calls ‘Forward.’ Well, forward doesn’t look a lot like forward to the millions and millions of families that are struggling today in this great country.”
“It doesn’t have to be this way. America can do better, and this kick in the gut has got to end.”
Obama, unsurprisingly, took a more optimistic view of the report. In a campaign speech in Poland, Ohio, the president called the jobs report “a step in the right direction,” but stressed that “we can’t be satisfied.”
“It’s still tough out there. We learned this morning that our businesses created 84,000 new jobs last month. And that, overall, means that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs,” Obama said.
“That’s a step in the right direction. But we can’t be satisfied because our goal was never to just keep on working to get back to where we were back in 2007,” he continued. “I want to get back to a time when middle-class families — and those working to get into the middle class — have some basic security. That’s our goal.”