July 6th, 2012
12:36 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama on job numbers: 'It's still tough out there'

(CNN) – On the day new employment numbers showed a disappointing growth of 80,000 jobs in June, President Barack Obama on Friday nodded to the small increase but said there was more work to be done.

"It's still tough out there," Obama said at a campaign stop in Poland, Ohio.

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Adding that some of the new jobs included manufacturing positions and that June marked the 28th straight month of job creation in the private sector, Obama said last month's numbers indicated "a step in the right direction."

However, he said, that wasn't enough.

"We can't be satisfied because our goal was never to just keep on working to get to where were back in 2007," the president said. "I want to get back to a time when middle class families and those working to get into the middle class have some basic security. That's our goal."

Responding to the president's comments, Mitt Romney's campaign took issue with Obama's phrasing, saying the economy's unemployment rate at 8.2% was a sign that the country was "losing ground," not taking a "step in the right direction."

"This is a time for America to choose whether they want more of the same; whether unemployment above 8 percent month after month after month is satisfactory or not. It doesn't have to be this way. America can do better and this kick in the gut has got to end," Romney said in a statement.

Obama's comments came on the second leg of his two-day bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania, two key swing states this November that also serve as a manufacturing hub.

In his remarks Friday, the president particularly focused on the economy, outlining what he often describes as the two "fundamentally different" economic theories playing out in this election.

Arguing that his plan, which includes raising taxes on the very wealthy, aims to build from the "middle out" rather than the top-down, Obama took a swipe at Romney, saying his millionaire rival could stand to pay more to Uncle Sam.

"Folks like me can afford to do it, I promise you I know. I've talked to my accountant," he said, drawing laughs. "And I sure know Mr. Romney can do a little more."

Appearing the in the Rust Belt region, Obama especially emphasized a need to boost the manufacturing sector. His administration filed a complaint Thursday with the World Trade Organization against China, citing what they called inconsistent duties leveled on certain American automobiles, including those made out of Toledo's Jeep assembly plant.

While he didn't mention the complaint Friday, he insisted he would work to protect American auto workers.

"I want to sell more goods stamped with three proud words: Made in America," he said.

The president also spent considerable time talking about his signature health care law, which was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court last week in a landmark decision.

He repeated an earlier attack he made in an interview aired Friday, accusing Romney of flip-flopping on his position on the law's penalty for those who refuse to purchase health insurance, a fine the high court deemed a "tax."

Obama, however, maintains the fee is a penalty, which is what Romney also called a similar measure in the healh care law he enacted as governor of Massachusetts.

But Romney, like many Republicans, calls the fine in the federal law a tax.

"When you hear all these folks saying, oh no, this is a tax, this is a burden on middle class families, let me tell ya, we know because the guy I'm running against tried this in Massachusetts, and it's working just fine, even though now he denies it," Obama said.

The president forcefully stood by the law, reiterating that his administration plans to continue to enforce it.

"I make no apologies for it. We're going to keep it moving forward. It was the right thing to do two years ago. It's the right thing to do now," he said.

Not only do Ohio and Pennsylvania represent crucial battleground territory this November, but Obama's bus tour path is also home to many working class voters, a group the two campaigns are trying to attract.

Obama started the morning with eggs, bacon and wheat toast at an Ann's Place in Akron, Ohio, where he sat down with three workers from the city's Goodyear tire plant.

Offered grits at the diner, Obama said, "You have grits, too?" and ordered a plate-full, according to pool notes from a reporter at the restaurant.

Next on his tour was a stop in Boardman to tour the Summer Garden Food Manufacturing.

While the bulk of his bus trip has taken place in Ohio, the president crosses the border into western Pennsylvania later Friday and finishes the tour in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday, Obama blazed through the northern part of the Buckeye State, starting in Maumee outside of Toledo, then heading east to the city of Sandusky and finishing the day with an event in Parma.

Countering the president's statements on the trail, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have been shadowing Obama's campaign stops. Thursday, they held events in Maumee and Parma, and made an appearance in Pittsburgh Friday morning, about three and half hours before Obama's scheduled arrival.

"Barack Obama has taken 'hope and change' and turned it into 'bait and switch.' He has walked back and forth on a number of issues, but he said just yesterday, I believe in Ohio, to a local media outlet that when you're president of the United State, your words matter," Pawlenty said.

The trip marks Obama's seventh time to Ohio this year, a state that CNN rates as a "toss-up" in its Electoral Map. Ohio has long been a key swing state in presidential elections, and a Quinnipiac survey released last week showed Obama with an edge over Romney, 47% to 38%.

As for Pennsylvania, the president was last in the Keystone State in mid June, when he held three fund-raisers in one day in Philadelphia. His wife, Michelle, also ventured to the city in early June and fired up a Philly crowd, urging them to turn out for her husband in November.

CNN rates the state as a state leaning toward Obama. A separate Quinnipiac survey released last week indicated the president had a slight margin over Romney, 45% to 39%.


Filed under: 2012 • Ohio • Pennsylvania • President Obama
soundoff (333 Responses)
  1. T'sah From Virginia

    President Obama is used to eating grits – there's no pretending there!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    July 6, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE/ConservaFASCISTS

    "You have grits, too?"
    ------------------------------------
    Take notes Willard. The President doesn't have to pander to common folk like you do Mr. 1%.

    July 6, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    Eats grits, rides a bus, and campaigns. Also known as the hallmarks of the Obama presidency.

    July 6, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  4. Al

    As Obama travels the country side, people that have no love for him are forced to pay for his campaigning around the country. Talk about wasting my tax dollars. If Obama wants to run around and campaign he should flip the entire bill and not make the tax payers that don't support him flip his travel bill. Yes, we the unwilling are flipping the bill for that bus, I think that bus needs to be paid for by the Obama campaign and his supporters along with is his security when he's campaigning.

    July 6, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. Investment Advisor

    No response neccessary.... Same old made up remarks regarding Bain...look into the facts, the REAL facts, not what Axlerod is pushing. He's starting to stutter more than usual.

    July 6, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. kevin

    Now that the EPA has won it's case in SCOTUS it will pounce big time on the coal industry. I wonder if the president wins in November and then EPA lowers the boom how all my fellow Americans in the coal industry will feel about Obama then after voting for him? To my fellow Americans in Ohio, PA, WV, KY and all the other coal states don't let the President get another chance to destroy your lives. Given the chance he will!

    July 6, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Yeah, let's all thank Republicans for the 80,000 jobs.

    July 6, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    According to Romney, Grits are people too, and are the right height.

    July 6, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  9. Jayson

    What Obama isn;t saying but should be:

    "Read my lips, 4 more years of terrible job growth"

    How is it that we are at 2010 levels of job growth if the economy is anywhere as near as he trys to make it sound, especially since he has had almost 4 years to undo some of the backing into the ditch of the Repubs.... And two of those years were with a Congress that was as Democrat or more Democrate then George Bush had

    July 6, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. dwp19542004

    any road side booms yet we can only hope for change

    July 6, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. dwp19542004

    any road side booms yet we can only hope for change

    July 6, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  12. Dave

    He is SOOOO awesome. He does everything – except govern effectively.

    July 6, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. ObamaJoe

    God bless America,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    God bless President Obama ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    July 6, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  14. Madrep

    Bus tour? Not flying Air Force One??? Wow, what a shocker! He has done nothing for the job market but on a good note, gays can get married and 800,00 illegal imigrants are now able to apply for jobs we don't have! Good job Obama...see you in November.

    July 6, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. RS, CA

    Obama just continues to lie, and lie, and lie - it's what he does best - it's ALL he knows to do.
    FACT: Romney took private money and built success.
    FACT: Obama took our money (yours and mine) and brought nothing but failure.
    I'll take Romney any day against that miserable failure now in the White House.

    Romney 2012 !

    July 6, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. Four and The Door

    "Gov. Romney's experience has been in owning companies that were called 'pioneers' of outsourcing," Obama said. "My experience has been in saving the American auto industry, and as long as I'm president that's what I'm going to be doing."
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
    OMG, did he really say that in the same sentence?!?! GM is right now in the middle of one of the largest off-shoring efforts in American history building massive auto technology development and production in China. Obama/ Biden 2012 is getting more pathetic every day. This is beyond comical. The next 4 months will be ridiculous to watch as he tries to campaign.

    July 6, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. Madrep

    Bus tour? Not flying Air Force One??? Wow, what a shocker! He has done nothing for the job market but on a good note, gays can get married and 800,00 illegal imigrants are now able to apply for jobs we don't have! Good job Obama...see you in November.

    July 6, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Andrew

    Mitt Romney's campaign manager asked Romney what type of bus he wanted for his campaign.

    Romney replied "Bus- Isn't that one of those things poor people ride in?".

    (all quotes contained herein may be completely made up, but are based on the character of the people quoted)

    July 6, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. Sagebrush Shorty

    I would go him but since I am a conservative he would probably make me ride in the back of the bus.

    July 6, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  20. Jayson

    And for his next performance he will break out a corn cob pipe or piece of straw or whatever stereotypical hicks have hanging out of the mouths and then proceed to talk with a southern accent....

    July 6, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. Madrep

    Nah..Obama doesn't pander to 1%ers??? Are you kidding me? All he does is have $10-30,000.00 fund rasing per plate events with his Hollywood and Corporate buddies. You people are so out of touch. Fix the tax system and bring jobs back to the USA instead of all this other nonsense he has accomplished. You want more jobs, you want a better economy? Put people to work! By the way, don't blame Romney for Bain, Bain is just another victim of our ridiculous tax syatem. Doubt it, look at GE, and numerous other corporations that used to have industries here.

    July 6, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Malory Archer

    Al, and if (heaven forbid!!!) mittens gets elected, he'll be doing the same thing four years from now. It's just how it's done. Unless we shorten campaign season to 60 days prior to the first Tuesday in November, it'll cost the same or more for future Presidents to do what every President before them has done.

    July 6, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  23. Malory Archer

    Sagebrush Shorty

    I would go him but since I am a conservative he would probably make me ride in the back of the bus.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Mittens would make you ride in a crate on the roof. Then, he'd hose you down with a car wash sprayer which, BTW, hurts like the dickens!

    July 6, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  24. 4 More Years!!!

    Obama/Biden for re-election in 2012!!!

    July 6, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. Padraig

    His sleeves are still rolled up giving the look that he is in this struggle for the common man. He most of lost his shovel, probably repossessed by the bank. I wonder is Air Force 1 was also repo'd since he is traveling in a bus.

    I heard this on the news, yes there were 80,000 additional jobs but the target is 125,000 to be flat with anything over would reduce the unemployment number. We are in dire straits.

    July 6, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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