Obama, Romney tackle grim jobs data

2012-09-08 16:11

US president and rival both claim they can get Americans employed.

President Barack Obama charged back on to the campaign trail on Friday and faced a withering attack from Republican rival Mitt Romney over disappointing new US jobs numbers as the candidates sought to emphasise their differences in states crucial to the battle for the White House.

Just hours after basking in his supporters’ adulation at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Obama was hit by a stark reminder of the challenge he ­faces convincing voters to give him a ­second term despite stubbornly high unemployment on his watch.

As the candidates launched the final two-month drive to Election Day, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Obama getting at least a small bounce from his convention, taking a narrow lead of 46% to Romney’s 44% among likely voters. Romney previously led by 45% to Obama’s 44%.

The latest polling was conducted ­before the labour department said on Friday that US employers added a ­lower-than-expected 96 000 jobs in August – which could ensure any “bump” in support for Obama is limited.

The grim economic news dimmed the afterglow from the convention where Obama on Thursday night accepted his party’s nomination and appealed to Americans for more time and patience to finish his economic agenda.

Pouncing on the jobs data to slam Obama’s handling of the economy – the top concern of voters – Romney called the figures “another disappointing, sad report”.

Romney said Obama “just doesn’t know what it takes to get America strong again. And I do. And I’m going to bring it back,” Romney said at a rally.

While noting the private sector had now generated jobs for 30 straight months, Obama acknowledged: “It’s not good enough. We need to create more jobs faster.”

At the same time, he pointed out that Republicans in Congress had blocked much of his jobs plan and accused Romney of making promises to revitalise the economy but not telling voters how he would do it.

“I honestly believe this is the clearest choice that we’ve had in my lifetime,” Obama said at a later rally. “It’s a choice between two fundamentally different visions of our future, where America goes.”

Obama took to the campaign trail with his wife, Michelle, and Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife a day after his nationally televised acceptance speech capped two weeks of back-to-back nominating conventions for Democrats and Republicans.

Obama’s acceptance speech drew the largest television audience of this year’s political conventions and ranked as the biggest political moment ever on social media-site Twitter.

The end of the conventions opened the last phase of a White House battle that polls show is essentially deadlocked amid deep voter anxiety about the economy.

Obama and Romney campaigned on Friday in the toss-up states of New Hampshire and Iowa, which could be critical to piecing together the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

They are among eight to 10 battleground states likely to decide the ­election, a list that includes Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, ­Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Those states have been flooded by tens of millions of dollars in TV ads by the campaigns, and hundreds of millions more from outside groups allied with the two candidates.

The next big campaigning event is the first of three presidential debates on October 3 in Denver.

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