(CNN) - Friday's jobs report showing an uptick in the nation's unemployment rate offered presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney an opportunity to blast President Barack Obama for his economic policies, though the unexpectedly high number of jobs created in July gave Democrats a shield against GOP critics.
With three monthly jobs reports remaining until November's general election, Romney sought to capitalize on the rising unemployment rate, writing the jump from 8.2% to 8.3% was a "hammer blow to struggling middle-class families."
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
"My plan will turn things around and bring the economy roaring back, with twelve million new jobs created by the end of my first term," Romney promised in a statement sent shortly after the July jobs report was released.
Both Obama and Romney have events scheduled for 11:45 a.m. ET, where each candidate will likely address Friday's jobs numbers.
Capitalizing on a remark the president made in June, Romney wrote that Obama "doesn't have a plan and believes that the private sector is 'doing fine.'"
Obama made that statement at a White House press conference, arguing the private sector was doing better than the public sector.
He clarified the remark later in the day after heavy criticism from those on the other side of the political aisle.
"It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine," Obama said.
Friday's job report showed the public sector continues to be a drag on overall hiring. The government cut 9,000 jobs in the month, while private businesses added 172,000 jobs.
In his one-paragraph statement, Romney used the term "middle class" three times, pushing forward a campaign theme he began Thursday with the roll-out of a five-point plan designed to bolster the middle class.
Romney's team said they would hold 24 "Strengthening the Middle Class" events Thursday and Friday in battleground states meant to educate voters about the presumptive GOP nominee's economic plan.
Ben LaBolt, Obama's campaign press secretary, shifted focus away from the rising unemployment rate and toward the job creation numbers in Friday's report. The economy added 163,000 jobs in July, according to the Labor Department.
"There have now been 29 months of consecutive private sector job growth and we could do more today to create jobs if Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress stopped obstructing the President's jobs plan to create one million jobs now and took immediate action to ensure taxes on middle class families don't go up," LaBolt wrote.
Voters consistently say in polls that the economy is the most important issue to them in the presidential election, making each successive monthly jobs report critical to each candidate's political fortunes. In a USA Today/Gallup survey taken July 19-22, 50% of voters nationwide said Romney would be better at creating jobs, compared to 44% who named Obama.
In the seven states CNN considers "toss ups" in November's vote, the unemployment rate varies. June figures showed four battlegrounds - Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Iowa - with jobless rates below the national average. Florida and Nevada both had rates above the U.S. average, and Colorado's rate of 8.2% was on par with the national rate. July unemployment rates for individual states will be released later in August.
In his statement reacting to Friday's news, House Speaker John Boehner similarly used Obama's "doing fine" remark, writing the rise in unemployment made it clear that the opposite was true of the economy.
"Any new job creation is welcome news - but with unemployment still above eight percent and rising, and millions of Americans looking for work, it is insane to raise taxes on small businesses, as the president and his allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate propose," Boehner wrote.
Alan B. Krueger, the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, wrote that the jobs report was an indication the economy was in recovery, while still pinpointing the start of the economic crisis to before Obama took office. Like Romney, he utilized the phrase "middle class" three times in the first paragraph of his statement.
"While there is more work that remains to be done, today's employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression," Krueger wrote. "It is critical that we continue the policies that build an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007."
In a line he has used for the past several months in reacting to jobs reports, Krueger wrote it was "important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available."
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Friday the report was an indication that Obama's economic plan "didn't work at all."
"Instead of supporting American innovation and job creation, he has squandered taxpayer money on failed companies like Solyndra, which led to job losses," Priebus wrote. "It's no wonder we can't end this economic nightmare. The president continues to take us in the wrong direction."
Priebus also used Friday's report to back the jobs plan from presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
"President Obama's only plans for a second term are higher taxes and more spending–exactly the opposite of what we need," Priebus wrote. "On Day One of his presidency, Mitt Romney will get to work implementing his comprehensive jobs plan to turn around the economy."
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
Okay Mittens, we know – you would create 500,000 jobs a month. Never happen – – and we are moving in the right direction and the American people know it, despite your carping and complaining. If the number had been 263,000, you would have nothing positive to say. Bottom line, more jobs (approx. 4.5 million) have been created in the last three and a half years. That is more than twice the number created during all 8 years of the Bush presidency.
So, Willard, what would you do to fix this? And please don't give us your usual trickle-down garbage that got us into this mess to begin with. You can't dodge this forever and sooner or later you will actually have to articulate a plan.
How about we put the blame where it belongs, on the republicans in congress for putting government employees out of work. There concern for cutting the budget is a ruse to keep the unemployment rates high, they never worried about deficits before
Release the taxes Mittens. Put up or shut.
The American People want to see Mitt's tax returns for the last 20 years. We also want to see how many jobs he off-shored. We also want to see how much money he has in off-shore accounts evading taxes.
Put Up or Shut Up Mitt!!!!!!!!!!1
Blah, blah, blah. The American people DEMAND to see your taxes Robmey!
Does Mitt Romney even know what a hammer looks like?
Yep...Mitt Romney has absolutely nothing.
Why didn't the GOP get themselves a REAL candidate?
Strange that the CNN "Political Unit" failed to mention the 155,000 people in the report who LEFT THE WORKFORCE... What's up with that?
Mitt doesn’t want you to see his tax returns because those returns would show just how skewed the tax code is in favor of the ultra-rich like Mitt.
What is worse is that even though Mitt pays taxes at a lower rate than many working class people, he wants his elite class to pay even less. That is the Ryan/Mitt plan. Reduce his taxes with still more unaffordable tax cuts for the very rich while we “broaden the base” and increase taxes for middle class America.”
And what is Mitt's answer to the economy?
Cut taxes for the ultra-wealthy and cut future benefits in social security and medicare.
Imagine what it will be like to try to buy health insurance when you are over 80. The vast majority will not be able to do so. What do you think the consequences of that would be?
An unemployment rate rise of a tenth of a percent is a HAMMER BLOW TO THE US MIDDLE CLASS.
Is this guy serious or just so desperate to find any justification to continue his absolutely doomed and futile presidential campaign??
C'mon Republicans!! Is this the best you can do??
Obama is a HUGE failure.
If 163000 jobs were added and unemployment went up, that's a good thing. It means more people are looking for work (and getting off of welfare). Confidence in the job market is growing.
The trend continues since the Great Recession ended in June 2009. For the past three years we have seen a slow down in jobs growth in late spring and early summer. It occured in May/June/July 2010, again in 2011, and now once again in 2012. I'll leave it up to experts to explain it because I believe that it runs contrary to any growth pattern that has occurred in the past. It seems to be a new normal.
This guy reminds me of the movie "Hollow Man": Lots of bluster on the outside, but nothing to see in the inside.
God, this man will say anything. His policies are the same as Bush, after 8 years we already know trickle down does not work. Giving the rich more tax advantages DOES not help the middle class. Does he think we are stupid? Oh yea I guess he and his wife do since "we have told you people all you need to know."
"Obama "doesn't have a plan and believes that the private sector is 'doing fine.'" ROMNEY WHAT IS YOUR PLAN? He is quick with the criticism but then never says exactly what he would change to create twelve million new jobs? If he has a plan then why hasn't the GOP tried to pass it through the congress? I think Romney is full of a lot of hot air!
This is so one sided that cnn acts like its good news. Unemp up what a joke Oblameo has been with his loser people pelosi and reed, make up one lie after another if stay with people you are a fool
Mitt Romney creates 12 million jobs buy hireing people to clean out his stables.
Somebody should sit down and explain to Romney in very simple terms that the middle class does not start with those earning over $1 million dollars in a year.
My plan will keep unemployment below 8%.
4 yrs and $5 Trillion dollars later..., Forward!?
Cherry picking the report to distort. What else would one expect from the biggest liar to run for POTUS in a generation. Remember, this is the guy with the tax plan that would significantly reduce his already historically low tax rate and increase the taxes of the average middle class family by over $2,000. Now he's pretending he cares about the middle class? I call major BS!
Maybe he could employ a few people taking care of his horse who has more money spent on it in a year than I earn. Yah Willard I know you have my best at heart you really understand how I live with your 4 car garage with an elevator for the cars at your VACATION home which you are putting some huge million dollar addition on. Do you understand what this says to all of us that you are living like this while we are all suffering and know the drought is going make us suffer more. We will be buying boxed mac and cheese to eat while your horse is sleeping in air conditioned paddocks and you are riding the elevator in your sports car seriously how could I vote for you even if I am disappointed by what Obama has accomplished (although the dont care about you Repubs had a lot to do with that)
Sometimes I get the feeling that the GOP and Corporations are in bed over hiring... like they have another private contract going where the larger corporations don't hire until Obama is out of office. Then when Mitt is president they hire and make the GOP look good. The only problem with this is that Mitt is not presidential material ... "NOT AT ALL"... and if you did get one of those twelve million jobs he speaks of... what will your pay be? Will they offer any benefits? My guess is "No". So, you loose again Mitt. Next story.