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. Patriot

    1. Since 1932, Democratic Presidents have created 73.4 million new jobs, Republicans have created only 34.8 million.

    2. To put it in perspective, it took Barack Obama 39 months to create more jobs (3.9MM) than last 3 presidential republican terms did in a combined total of 12 years or 36 months (3.7MM).

    Source: Washington Post

    July 6, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Mikey

    @Laura, Boston – You really need to become more informed before you spout the dribble Faux and Rush feed you.
    First, $280 billion (over 1/3) of the stimulus money wat TAX CUTS.
    Second, the ACA adds some taxes and costs, but also have many provisions that will bring down long term expense, such as discourgaging freeloaders, preventative care, electronic records, and controls on administrative expenses.
    Third, the Obama's have vacationed much less that GWB or the Reagans. It is ridiculus how often the President gets criticized for doing the exact same things as his predecessors (and frequently less than they did) by people who said exactly zippo about it when it was Republicans doing it. Got hyprocracy?
    Finally, most small business owners are not in the 1% and quite a few of the 25+ tax breaks the President has signed into law were directed at small businesses. Example: the ACA creates exchanges and provides tax breaks that will allow many small business to provide health insurance to their employees and better compete for talent.

    July 6, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Obamabus

    It also marks the 28th straight month of Obama giving the same speech about how it's a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

    July 6, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    You GOP apologists crack me up. What happened to your jobs, jobs, jobs mantra from your representatives in Congress? They conned you into voting for them and they've done nothing. It's just easier to blame the POTUS than the LEGISLATIVE branch, isn't it? Gimme a break! And that President Obama is expected to fix your guy's 8 years worth of mess in one term, is, at the minimum at an intelligence quotient right at 80.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    July 6, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Palin Power

    There is only one person who can make these jobs numbers so much better, Sarah Palin. We need to elect her so she can implement Palinomics! It will create more jobs than un and underemployed people looking for them and drive unemployment down to zero!

    July 6, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Whare are all of the jobs that the Republicans ran on in 2010? Back when they pulled "The Great Sucker Punch" on the American people by pursuing a radical social agenda instead of keeping their jobs promises. Why should we believe that that is not what they will do all over again? Put them in charge, and they will double down on social issues and tilting the playing field.

    Remember the warning we got from Herman Cain? "If you ain't rich, it's your own fault."

    July 6, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Phil in KC

    I don't disagree with anything the President said. It is not enough. It is a step in the right direction. We need more manufacturing.
    Is the recovery going slower than we would like? Absolutely!. But we are heading, however slowly, in the right direction. Under Bush, we went the wrong way. I'll take a slow recovery over the wrong policies of the past any day. Mitt just seems to want a replay of the Bush years.

    July 6, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. RickMN

    More people have gone on disability since Obama got elected than have gotten jobs.

    July 6, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. mike

    Obama first 2 years had majority in Senate and House could pass any legislation he wanted. He didn't need 1 repub vote. He passed 1 trillion stimulus promising unemployemnt to 7% by 2010. Didn't happen. He said the summer of 2010 was the recovery summer. Didn't happen. How is it Repubs fault when he had those 2 years to do anything. He failed. So in 2010 the people voted the failures out and told repubs don't cooperate with these losers anymore. Which the repubs did. Obama is a failure. Anyone that supports him are in the 50% that gets some sort of goverment money. Food stamps, welfare. They don't want their checks to stop they are lazy idiots. That I pay to support there kids.

    July 6, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. bill

    This guy is a disaster.

    July 6, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. Darryl

    The people of this country are NOT stupid. They know the GOP has delibertly stopped Job growth and Progress in this country just to make the POTUS look bad. That alone gets the POTUS re-elected not to mention the person the Republicans have running against the President ? Good GOD as they say, Mitt Romney is an absolute OUT OF TOUCH man with the average working class & Poor person of this country.Obviously he is good at spread sheets and making money being a CEO at Wallstreet, but he is NOT qualifief at all whats so ever the be POTUS of America, this Great Country and Comander & Chief. Sorry that is just a fact.

    July 6, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    RealityBites wrote:

    Unemployment rate by race
    7.4 % White
    11 % Hispanic
    14.4% Black

    Job approval by race
    38% White
    65% Hispanic
    85% Black

    Isn't it ironic....
    ------------------
    Ironic in what way?

    Do you realize that the black and hispanic unemployment rates and job prospects for better paying jobs are better know than they were under GWB? The real irony is that you seem to think the numbers don't make sense for the blacks and hispanics. But, when you look at trends over time, instead of cherry-picked snapshots, it is the whites in America who have fallen further economically than the minorities. Hey, the minorities were already at rock bottom.

    July 6, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. 333maxwell

    Governor Romney has been desperately trying to avoid talking about Bain Capital and other investments of his that have consolidated and shut down jobs galore in the US, and shipped so many other jobs over seas.

    Suddenly he wants to talk about jobs? Good, I have some questions to ask him.

    July 6, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Reggie from LA

    SOUTHERN HOTTIE
    That's so right. How 'bout them jobs? How come the right is letting their "boys" off the hook. You heard them say that voting for them is a "step in the right direction" for jobs creatation. By the way, the 1% are not the job creators. We've just been told that so we'd vote and holler to protect rich people. It worked. Obama's been working to improve job numbers. What has the right done? Protected lower taxatation for the rich, or working to make it happen.

    July 6, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Dan J

    A step in the right direction? Did his teleprompter break down? That line is regrettable.

    July 6, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. Daddymack

    Is it me or does politicians think people are not able to see the facts and make their own decisions? Is the fact that jobs are being added more than being lost a good thing? Ignore the election sound bites and really consider where we would have been today if our government did not take some drastic financial measures 3-4 years ago. Just take a look an Europe and see how better economically we are today.

    July 6, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. Hank

    I'm a republican and I hope the economy gets WORSE. In fact, I'm praying for it! Just means President Romney.

    July 6, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Dan J

    @ Southern Hottie, 8 years of mess, with a democratic controlled congress, cannot be fixed in four years. You're right. But in four years, logic would say we should bounce back halfway. It's the slowest recovery in the modern era, and the buck should stop with the president. Enough excuses, campaigning, and vacationing. People are suffering, and ultimately Obama deserves a big chunk of the blame. If he were the CEO of a corporations, shareholders would be calling for his immediate termination.

    July 6, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Thomas

    Romney and the GOP pray for an Obama failure .

    America is better then a Romney world !

    July 6, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. RAMBLE

    You don't create jobs. You only stifle them by costs and regs. Dems do that.

    July 6, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. ublvble

    "a step in the right direction." ??? Private sector doing fine?? Clueless?? dont care??

    July 6, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. Dave

    Yes, it is still tough out there and will be until we get rid of the current administration that is based on distortions, false promises, debt, deficits, unemployment, etc.

    July 6, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. katolungile

    Not his fault! How many times does he have to say this!!!

    July 6, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. Ricardo

    It's ashame for the GOP to blame the President for the low job report when they get pay with tax payers money to say no on everything the president propose to bust the economy. I'm glad I'm not a politician. Those politicians have too much nerve.

    July 6, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. ublvble

    even if we give him another 4 more years, the state of affairs will remain same. as he is clueless going forward, more entanglements and more union jobs more deficits

    July 6, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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