North Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) – Mitt Romney said Friday in Nevada that a monthly jobs report showing the unemployment rate rising from 8.2% to 8.3% proved President Barack Obama had failed to stem the suffering of 23 million Americans still out of work.
The same report showed 163,000 jobs were created in July, a statistic the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said represented only one element of a larger, disappointing record.
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"I'm not going to look so much at every monthly statistic, as much as to say this continues a pattern of American families really struggling, having hard times, and the president's to blame for not having gotten the economy back on track," Romney said after a campaign rally in Las Vegas. Nevada is a battleground state whose unemployment rate is well above the national average.
"A lot of people are suffering in this country," Romney continued. "I think it's an extraordinary failure of policy, a failure of leadership, and I think it's a moral failure for a country as successful and prosperous as our own to go now four years in a mode which feels to many people as a recession."
Speaking at his campaign rally, Romney offered his own five-point plan as an alternative to what he said were Obama's failed policies.
"These numbers are not just statistics," Romney said. "These are real people, really suffering, having hard times. Twenty-three million Americans out of work or stopped looking for work or under employed."
"This is an extraordinary record of failure," the Republican candidate continued. "The president's policies are not working because he thinks government makes America work. He is wrong."
Romney's plan, which he rolled out Thursday at an event in Colorado, is a simplified campaign message that utilizes traditional conservative stances he says will "get the middle class working again."
The proposals include ramping up domestic energy production; increasing trade and job training; focusing on deficit reduction; and boosting small businesses, with Romney promising that, if elected, he would deliver on them to unleash the full potential of the U.S. economy.
Taking questions from the press following his event, Romney responded to allegations from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he has not been paying his taxes, reiterating his call for Reid to "put up or shut up."
"Harry, who are your sources? Let's have Harry explain who that is," Romney said.
The candidate said firmly, "I have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes, so Harry is wrong."
Asked to weigh in on a pair of culture clashes within the GOP - the growing debate about Chick-fil-A, and its president's opposition to same-sex marriage, and Rep. Michele Bachmann's effort to find Muslim extremists within the federal government - Romney demurred.
"I'm not going to tell other people what things to talk about. Those are not things that are part of my campaign," Romney said.
CNN's Shawna Shepherd and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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