Washington (CNN) – Those fives words won’t seem to go away.
Hoping to continue capitalizing politically on what many consider a gaffe by President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign Thursday released a new television ad hitting the president on his comment, made last Friday, that "the private sector’s doing fine."
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The spot is the first negative campaign ad against Obama from Romney’s campaign in the general election campaign.
In the new 30 second spot, Mitt Romney's team replays the president uttering the phrase several times while highlighting the nation's economic woes by flashing on-screen text: “23.2 million Americans are unemployed,” “40 straight months over 8% unemployment” and “middle-class struggles deepen under Obama.”
The only voice heard in the spot is the president's.
In full context, Obama said during his Friday press conference that 4.3 million jobs had been added in the private sector in the last 27 months.
"The private sector's doing fine," Obama said. "Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in."
Responding to the latest Romney ad, Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith took aim at the Republican candidate's jobs plan.
"Mitt Romney's newest ad is a stark reminder that he doesn't have any new ideas to grow the economy or strengthen the middle class," Smith wrote in a statement. "In fact, his 59-point economic plan wouldn't create a single job now – instead he's proposed cutting jobs for teachers, firefighters, and police. While the President has put a plan on the table to build on 27 consecutive months of private sector job growth and spur additional hiring by keeping cops on the street and teachers in the classroom, cutting taxes for small businesses, and helping families refinance their mortgages."
Republicans pounced almost immediately on Obama’s remarks, which were made last week during a news conference called to discuss the economy and some of its problems.
Obama was trying to draw a distinction between the private sector’s continued growth job-wise and the public sector’s troubles. The president later Friday had to backtrack. telling reporters "It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That's the reason I had the press conference."
Political analysts predicted – rightly – that Obama’s words would soon end up in a political advertisement. The Republican National Committee and later the Romney campaign both put out web videos highlighting the words.
As CNN reported Thursday, Team Romney has bought its largest ad buy of the general election media campaign and this ad will be the featured presentation. It has purchased $3.24 million in seven battleground states for time running through next Tuesday.
On the private sector vs. public sector debate, the Obama campaign has been attacking Mitt Romney for comments he made last week in reaction to the president.
"He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people,” Romney said at a campaign stop in Iowa.
Obama’s campaign has used Romney’s words to try and assert the Republican candidate would cut the ranks of public employees if he became president. In an interview on Fox News Tuesday Romney called the charge "a very strange accusation."
"Of course teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states,” Romney said, adding: "The federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that's completely absurd."
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