Less than a day had passed since President Obama’s big acceptance speech when a disappointing new jobs report lent fresh fuel to his opponent’s campaign as the two candidates rev up for the home stretch. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
For President Barack Obama, there was no time to revel in the excitement of this week’s Democratic convention, which culminated in his big speech Thursday night. With two months to election day, it’s now a sprint to the finish, with resources focused on a handful of swing states like New Hampshire, where the president and vice president appeared Friday.
“Wasn’t the president incredible last night?” Vice President Joe Biden asked supporters.
His opponent sure didn’t think so. In swing-state Iowa, Mitt Romney said he’d read Obama’s speech.
“You haven’t perhaps got a chance to do that but if you did, perhaps like me, you found it extraordinarily disappointing," he said. "Surprisingly disappointed.”
What was certainly disappointing for the administration was the latest jobs report. It showed the economy added an anemic 96,000 jobs last month. Unemployment dropped slightly to 8.1 percent but only because more people gave up looking.
"Did you see the jobs report this morning, by the way?” Romney said. ”Almost 400,000 dropped out of the workforce altogether. It’s just simply unimaginable. The president said that by this time, we’d be at 5.4 percent unemployment. 5.4 percent. Instead, we’re at about 8 percent.”
Obama took a more optimistic view, noting how bad things were four years ago.
“Today we learned that after losing around 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, business once again added jobs for the 30th month in a row,” he said.
He also blamed Congressional inaction on his jobs bill, which he says would create a million new jobs. Still, the new numbers are an unwelcome distraction and, political observers say, could limit any post-convention bounce in the polls.
“They’re nothing that allows him to change the conversation," said David Birdsell of Baruch College. "They’re nothing that allows him to stand up today and say 'I told you last night that it was going to get better and it’s getting better now.' He’s back to long, hard slog and that’s a much less appealing message to take into November 6.”
The candidates get their next big chance to sway voters at the debates. The first takes place October 3 in Denver.