Obama campaign makes bad jobs number about Romney; Romney responds

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Gov. Mitt Romney quickly dismissed today’s effort by President Barack Obama’s campaign to downplay the bad news in the June jobs-report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8.30 a.m.

Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, tweeted out a diversion at 9:01 a.m. that showcased a June 2006 video of Massachusetts Governor Romney saying that a new executive’s policies can’t lower the unemployment rate immediately.

But Romney used his 10:00 a.m. press event to refute the video, telling reporters that Obama’s “policies have not worked… over four years.”

An unemployment rate that has remained for “forty-one months above 8 percent pretty much defines lack of success,” Romney said in response to a reporter’s shouted question about the video after the press secretary had announced the event was over.

The president predicted his 2009 stimulus would reduce unemployment by mid-2012 to 5.6 percent, Romney said.

“Millions and millions of American families are suffering because the presidents’s policies aren’t working for them,” he said at the press event in Wolfeboro, N.H.

In 2006, when the Romney video was shot, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate was 4.6 percent and falling, partly because of Romney’s free-market policies.

In contrast, Obama’s rate in June 2012 is 8.2 percent, the same as May.

That’s up from April’s 8.1 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ additional measures of June unemployment ticked up. The U-6 rate, for example, which tracks underemployed, alienated and part-time workers, rose from 14.8 percent to 14.9 percent,

Unemployment among African-Americans nudged up from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent, while unemployment among Latinos remained at 11 percent.

Axelrod’s diversionary link to the Romney video sought to highlight Romney’s acknowledgement that government can’t shift the economy rapidly.

“It takes time to get things turned around,” Romney said in his press conference, amid a sub-5 percent unemployment rate.

Obama has been making the same argument since 2010.

In a June 5 Ohio speech, Obama declared that “we didn’t realize [in 2008 that] we were going to get hit by the worst economic crisis in most of our lifetimes… we’ve had to spend three and a half years recovering and pushing back… [and] for all the progress we’ve made, we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Awkwardly, the bad jobs numbers were published while Obama is touring Ohio and Pennsylvania touting his economic program.

Alan Krueger, the head of the White House’s economic advisor, pushed the same message June 6. “The economy is continuing to heal… we see manufacturing is continuing to expand,” he said. The sector gained 11,000 jobs in May.

“There are a lot of headwinds out there… the president is going to stay at it,” Krueger added.

GOP advocates slammed Krueger’s written statement, which said that “it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

“Stunning” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

“Pretty sure the 23 million Americans struggling under our economy might disagree,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “Not a great place for Obama to be just four months from an election.”

The media’s attention on the bad job-data gave Romney an opportunity to compare his free-market pitch to the president’s economic record.

The 8.2 percent unemployment rate “is unacceptably high,” Romney said in his June 6 press event. Rising health-care costs, high business taxes and “the highest regulatory burdens… do not creates jobs,” he said. “The president doesn’t have a plan… to get the economy going,” he said.

Follow Neil on Twitter