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
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
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
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
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.
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.