(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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While Governor of Massachusetts his State was 47th in job growth. I don't think he has the history to criticize the President. Mr. Romney also led the way in Outsourcing jobs while making his fortune. He has to release those tax records he is hiding.
Romney can promise the moon.....who belives him is the problem!!! The man is just hard to like let alone trust.
Got to love "Mitt the Twitt". How in the world is his "Voodoo Economic Plan" suppose to work? More tax cuts for the Rich is going to add 12 Million new jobs. News Flash – all these tax "cuts" that the Repubs want to make permanent have been in place the last three years. If they are going to "Fix" the unemployment, why haven't they? If Mitt really wants to be the so called "master leader" that he claims to be, then LEAD. Tell us what you will do that is different from Bush's failed policies and Obama's plans. Blaming Obama without explaining a plan, is not leadership but shallow politics.
I haven't hear a darn thing about Romney's plan. All I hear is about what he WANTS to do. Educate us on the economy? What do we need to know? It sucks! I want to hear you plan! Where is the plan? Where are the jobs you promised in 2010 Republicans???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This independent is voting for Obama. Period. And so are most of the other independents I know in New Hampshire.
Please Mr. Romney the American ppl. are not stupid. Walker of Wis., Kaisak, Ohio, campaigned on job creation check what they did after winning. Romney has no intentions of helping the middle class. Check his record when he was governor, his lies regarding THE OLYMPICS, he received millions for the fed. governmt. This man only undermines Pres. O. He NEVER offers any info. as to how he will create jobs. He is for the wealthy 2% only not for the working class. I see him as a very insecure man who has to tear another man down in order to make himself look big or successful. Obama is a BUILDER, he said in the beginning he wants a slow steady solid growth. Ohio has a 7.3 unemployment rate do to automobile related industry. Kasick wanted to fire police, teacher, firemen, other govmnt related jobs. The highest unemployment rates are in the RED STATES. Check it out. Romney will do and say anything to get elected. I do not or will I ever trust this man. If he had nothing to hide then why doesn't he release his 10 tax records. He has too many character flaws to be president of America. He feels he is better than everyone due to his wealth. He fails to treat others, even ppl in other countries with dignity and respect. Countries on this planet I believe dislike Romney. His looks, acts, speaks like a programmed robot. It is my opinion he has no feelings, has no love for his fellow man only himself and his wealthy friends.
Ronmey's got my vote this time I'm tried of Obama tried of Reid they have done nothing to help
I'm tired of it we need another change.
Turn around the economy, lets see when he (Obama) took office the economy was bleeding 700,000 jobs a month. Now we have a 163,000 gain....that sounds like a turn around to me. So what do the republicans mean by turn around the economy? Do they want us to return to the 700,000 jobs lost a month thing? That doesn't sound like something I or the people of this nation want.
Public sector jobs grow by 174,000 and public sector jobs decrease by 9,000 and Republicans are complaining. I thought that conservatives wanted to shrink government. But, they are right if the public sector was investing in jobs for teachers, policemen and firemen, we would be shinking the overall unemployment. Conservatives can't have it both ways, either you are for less public sector jobs and higher unemployment or you are for more public sector jobs and lower unemployment. Thank you President Obama for changing the disastrous course of the last Republican administration.
Republicans love bad news... in fact they participate in creating it. What were the jobs numbers under their last reign in office? They sucked. They were negative. What happened with the policies they claim will enhance the recovery, those same policies killed our economy. Republicans feed off of ignorance. Just look at the numbers.... Fox news viewers (republicants) are the most factually uninformed viewers in the world.
He needs to pounce on his TAXES!
Why do we count public job loss if their objective us to shrink government? Why can't we just say 172k jobs added?
WIthout even reading Romney's response, I'm going to guess that he disparages President Obama. Am I right?
And WHAT, pray tell, is Romney's "comprehensive jobs plan?"
172,000 private sector jobs added and 9000 government jobs eliminated. And his idea is to cut government spending even more. the private sector IS doing fine, the public sector needs all the help it can get. Those 9000 jobs cut are teachers, local city employees, construction, mail, IRS employees; who needs teachers right? Its a numbers game. The GOP would rather file more uneducated people into their ranks to hold on to their dwindling legitimacy.
Ah, yes Mr. Romney's hyperbole. A "hammer blow" that shot the Dow up 200 points, and that was about 100% larger than the number predicted (or ANY month of the previous GOP administration).
Its always swell to know that while they do nothing constructive, todays GOP is ALWAYS there to meake even good news sound like the end of the world- especially for people (the middle class) that they don't even care about!
These Gop goofs are praying for a bad economy and doing every thing they can to make it happend . They will pay for it with the Gop train wreck in Nov .people aren't stupid and where's your tax returns you tax cheat ?????
Yep, the GOP vision for jobs... tons of minimum wage paying jobs without benefits – like his pal Rick Perry. Then these people, earning poverty level wages can become reliant on the government for support. That is what you get when you dismiss regulations and empower companies to do whatever they please... a lower standard of living for most, more wealth for the top of the 1% (including Romney), but a glowing jobs report. It's like saying a report that we have less sick people is progress, when the underlying reasoning is that instead of being sick....their dead. Smoke and mirrors...the GOP vision. Considering their supporters, it doesn't seem like a hard task to fool the foolish. And you wonder why the GOP opposes education reform....that would destroy their base!
"Twelve million new jobs created by the end of my first term" – Mitt Romney
Sure, twelve million jobs...in China.
Anyone esle notice that the only time republicans speak the word jobs, is when the jobs report comes out. Hey, here's a thought, pass the dam jobs bill. Oh, that's right, it would make Obama look good. Sorry job hunters.
Romney if you want to hammer anybody, happer your congress buddies to pass the jobs bill!! Considering their obstructionism, this is a good jobs report.
Right the stock market spiking and job creation spiking is a hammer blow to the middle class.
Kind of like winning the lottery is a hammer blow.
He said he´s going to Bring in 12 million new jobs . How´s he going to do that , bring them back from China ?
This guy´s a liar and a cheat .
Mittins hired a PR firm to help clean up HIS act. If he would come clean on Bain and income tax, he would stop the distractions and allow the debate to tackle the huge issues before the nation. Of course, telling the press to "shove it," hasn't helped at all.
That dog won't hunt mittens. While the UE number may have ticked up a fraction of a point, we're still ADDING jobs.
What's Romney's plan? Oh right cut taxes for corporations and the top 2%. Because that worked SO well for the economy under Bush Jr.