(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."
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"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.
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The real 'hammer blow' Romney is your acting as if you could/would/will do anything to help middle America. When everyone is aware you will NOT.
Ironic. A man who is directly responsible for thousands of people losing their jobs and livelihood...
More jobs created. More jobs available means more unemployed people looking for jobs means more unemployed people entering the jobs market
Romney's Plan, operation destroy the “Middle Class". He is trying to push Bush Policies, the one's we know that failed to begin with. I just don't understand why (Lessons Learned) is ignored? Regardless if the numbers were 500,000 or higher he would have still made a negative comment about it. All I hear from Romney is Obama this Obama that. Why not talk about your "Plan's" more? Why are you now stealing Obama's talking point?
BTW Mitt, the Republicans/Tea Party in Congress ranted to be elected so they could create "jobs", How many bills have they passed (None). Instead they vote 33 times on Obamacare. Unreal!
Hey Mitt – Stock Market is up 216 points on the good news. Nice try though.
Why would anybody in the middle class vote for Mitt Romney and the current GOP party they are owned by the top 1%...
and after ten years of tax cuts for the top 1%, those job creators...where are the jobs..Mitt Romney sent them over sea...
Mitt Romney uses "Simplified" message....Mitt is the real mystery man...He does not talk about his religion, his draft dodging, his taxes, his Bain Company history, what he really paid in taxes, his use of tax deductions only used by the rich, his oversea bank accounts, his plans to fix our economy, only repeats what got us into this mess..more tax cuts for the rich, that do not need them or pay to fund our roads, military, our country....
Mitt is already "Simplified", from the neck up....
Solyndra was doing just fine until the Chinese government funded chinese companies to make solar panels really cheap.
This time it is a 'hammer blow'? Not a 'punch to the gut'?
Your hyperbole is ludicrous Romney. NO< it's not great, but it is WAY better than the
750,000 jobs we lost PER MONTH under W!!!!
750,000 PER MONTH!!!
NO GoTP Presidency! WE CAN'T AFFORD IT!
Why isn't the job report on the headlines for CNN? Let me guess they reflect badly on the current management of our federal government.
And to think out President suggests his plan worked! More deficits, debt and unemployment is NOT success!
Why wait til after the election, why not create the 12 million jobs now. Are the job creators somehow holding back the jobs, and they can only create them if they aren't taxed?
I like Romney a lot, but I hate when he promises something I don't think he can deliver. Still, Romney in 2012!
OBAMA Unemployment Rise To 8.3%
YOU DID NOT BUILD THAT !!!
Welfare Queens Did !!!
-> -> -> FORWARD -> -> ->
If you believe this lying sack I have a bridge I'd like to sell you. WE knew this would take awhile but if the rpos would get on board we could move quicker. Romney can't handel showing us his tax returns what makes anyone think he can fix the economy. And four more years from now it will be better, Im sticking with the only adult in the room. Forward 2012
Show us the Tax Returns and prove you paid taxes.
1/10 percent is a "hammer blow"?! Poor Mitt should really remember to take his pills.
After what has happened to the middle class in the last 4 years, Obama claiming he is the guy fighting for the middle class is as tough to swallow as it would be to hear Bernie Madoff claiming he's fighting for the investor. C'mon, are any people really this gullible in 2012?
So more people were laid off than got jobs. Let's just say it straight. Wonder how many of those laid off were due to the upcoming tax increases. We will probably never know.
mitt romney must be the only person who thought the jobs report was bad. the dow today is up 215 points, sounds like good news to me.
Governor Romney – two questions regarding your "economic plan" – What is it? Details PLEASE!! and How? How will you implement it, what will the effects be? How long will it take? 12 million jobs in 4 years sounds great, except in non wartime its NEVER HAPPENED.
Employment always flattens out in July. This year we had jobs added, while unemployment increased by a rounding error. That's "a hammer blow to the middle class"? Romney, your disciples believe you when you say stuff like this, but they're not the ones who will make the difference in November. Get some rhetoric that at least comes close to reality.
So the private sector added alot more jobs than anticipated, while the Public Sector (government) continues to shed jobs. So overall, the private sector is growing while the Public Sector is shrinking, aka, a smaller government. And the GOP is trouncing on this concept why? Isn't that what they're about?
Obama's anti-job anti-growth policies of more regulation and out of control spending continue to come home to roost. On top of this dismal performance, Obama is trumpeting tax hikes. What a terrible idea! We can't afford another 4 years of this. Romney 2012!
why was he talking like he's going to do some miracles if he's the Mr Pres. He could not even save his state....Hypocrite!
The Bush tax relief is still active, and now three years later the job creators should have been kicking it, with all the money they have not had to pay.