THE RACE: Weak Jobs report keeps focus on economy

By TOM RAUM | July 6, 2012 | 12:41 PM EDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks about job numbers, Friday, July 6, 2012, at Bradley's Hardware in Wolfeboro, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The latest anemic U.S. jobs report is keeping the nation's economic woes firmly atop the list of voter anxieties — and presidential campaign issues.

President Barack Obama positioned himself before Friday's report to make the best of another dose of bad economic news.

He was on the second day of an Ohio-Pennsylvania bus tour, two hard-hit Rust Belt battleground states that have made some recent economic advances and have jobless rates nearly a percentage point below the national average of 8.2 percent.

Romney found himself in a less optimal place for talking about healing a still-sick economy.

He spoke from a hardware store in the New Hampshire summer resort town of Wolfeboro, close to his sprawling $8 million estate on Lake Winnipesaukee where he's been vacationing this week with his family.

Romney called the new report — showing an unchanged jobless rate in June — another "kick in the gut," the fourth consecutive month of disappointing job growth.

Asked by a reporter about his vacation time, Romney said: "I hope more Americans are able to take vacations." They will be, he suggested, if he's elected and produces more jobs.

His case for capturing the White House rests on his experience as a successful businessman. But Romney recently has struggled to stay on message amid distracting tangles with some Republican conservatives over health care and other issues.

Obama said Friday in Poland, Ohio, that the modest net addition of 80,000 jobs last month — only about half of what's needed to keep pace with working-age population growth — was "a step in the right direction."

"It's still tough out there," he said. "We can't be satisfied."

No president since Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression has been re-elected with unemployment over 8 percent.


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