Obama hails jobs report in effort to boost campaign
October 6 , 2012
U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday hailed a drop in the unemployment rate to the lowest level since he took office as he sought to bounce back from a poor debate performance against Republican rival Mitt Romney.
Last month's rate came in at 7.8 percent, down from 8.1 percent in August.
The latest numbers also indicated that the U.S. economy added a further 114,000 jobs in September, beating expectations.
The much-needed positive news for the Democratic incumbent came two days after the first televised presidential debate, which most observers concur his Romney won.
"Today, I believe that as a nation we are moving forward again," Obama told a campaign rally at George Mason University in Virginia. "More Americans entered the workforce, more people are getting jobs."
"It's a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now," he said.
He also seized the opportunity, both in Virginia and later at a campaign event in Ohio, to accuse Romney of using the debate to reinvent himself with an "extreme makeover" on everything from taxes to government regulations.
Wednesday’s debate saw the two candidates go head to head on jobs, taxes and healthcare.
Around 67 million people watched the debate, according to the Nielsen TV ratings service.
Opinion polls agreed that Romney had the upper hand with various surveys giving him a 46 to 67 percent margin, while Obama trailed behind at 22 to 25 percent.
Often criticized for being impassive, Romney's assertive debate performance gave his campaign a much-required burst of energy following weeks of setbacks.
Obama was slated for appearing uncertain and failing to grab opportunities to attack his rival on his business record at Bain Capital, the "47 percent" video and his refusal to release more income tax returns.
Reacting to the jobs data, Romney maintained the economy remained weak and said the unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent if it included those who had given up looking for work.
"This is not what a real recovery looks like," he said in a statement.
Later in the day, Romney addressed a crowd in Abingdon, Virginia, and did not bring up the Labor Department report until close to the end of his remarks.
"There were fewer new jobs created this month than last month and the unemployment rate has you know this year has come down very, very slowly, but it has come down nonetheless," he said.
"The reason it has come down this year is primarily due to the fact that more and more people have just stopped looking for work," he said. "When I'm president of the United States ... the unemployment rate is going to come down, not because people are giving up and dropping out of the workforce, but because we're creating more jobs."