Jobs report boosts Obama; Romney not impressed

FAIRFAX, Va. — Mitt Romney was still celebrating his widely praised debate performance when the campaign lurched in a different direction.

Unemployment dropped last month to the lowest level since 2009, and suddenly it was President Barack Obama’s turn to smile.

In a race dominated by the weak economy, Obama said Friday the creation of 114,000 jobs in September, coupled with a drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent, was “a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now.” Jabbing at his rival’s plans, he declared, “We’ve made too much progress to return to the policies that caused this crisis in the first place.”

But Romney saw little to like in the day’s new government numbers.

“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” the former Massachusetts governor and businessman said, an analysis echoed by other Republicans throughout the day. “We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we’ve lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office,” Romney added.

“If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11%,” he said.

Incumbent and challenger alike campaigned in battleground states during the day, each man starting out in Virginia before the president headed for Ohio and Romney flew to Florida. Those three states, along with Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Iowa make up the nine battleground states where the race is likely to be decided. Among them, they account for 110 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Recent polls have shown Obama with leads in most if not all of them, although the impact of Wednesday night’s debate and of the drop in unemployment could well change some public opinion.

Both campaigns kept up a television advertising war with a price tag approaching $750 million when outside group spending is included.

Romney launched three new commercials during the day, one aimed at voters in Nevada, a second targeted to Ohio and a third that says Obama claims “he is creating jobs, but he’s really creating debt,” running up deficits and spending unnecessarily. “He’s not just wasting it. He’s borrowing it and then wasting it,” the narrator says.

The campaign did not say where it would air.

Romney’s strong showing in the campaign’s first general election debate cheered Republicans who had worried about his campaign, and forced Obama’s aides into a rare public acknowledgement that they would have to adjust their strategy for the next encounter.

The jobs report was the main flashpoint of the day, and Obama scolded Republicans for their reaction.

“Today’s news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points,” he said as Romney and most GOP lawmakers emphasized portions of the report other than the drop in the unemployment rate to the same level as when the president took office.

Republicans made it clear they wanted to keep the focus on Wednesday night’s debate, when Romney appeared confident as he pitched his case for a new approach to the economy and Obama turned in a performance that even some Democrats conceded was subpar.

“I enjoyed that debate a couple nights ago. That was a great experience,” Romney told a crowd of more than 5,000 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Friday night, declining to cite the new jobs report.

In a weekly “Weekend Messaging Memo” distributed by the Republican National Committee, communications director Sean Spicer devoted 650 words to a recap of the debate — and made no mention of the drop in unemployment.

More in Local News

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Most Read