WHITE HOUSE — President Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail after accepting the Democratic Party nomination. Obama, and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, are focusing on battleground states likely to determine the outcome of the November 6 presidential election.
With his wife Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, Obama began a three-day campaign swing starting in the northeastern state of New Hampshire. The trip will take him back to Iowa in the Midwest, and the critically-important state of Florida in the southeastern United States.
Obama hopes to sustain enthusiasm and momentum from the Democratic National Convention for as long as possible, as he makes the case for voters to re-elect him and not choose Republican nominee Mitt Romney in November.
The momentum was blunted somewhat by the latest government figures showing only 96,000 jobs added to the economy in August. Overall unemployment declined to 8.1 percent, largely due to 368,000 people stopping their search for work.
A drop in the overall rate is a good thing for Obama. But it also provides ammunition for Mitt Romney and Republican leaders in Congress to renew assertions that Obama’s policies have failed.
In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, President Obama put a positive spin on the jobs numbers but said he knows more work is ahead.
“Today we learned that after losing around 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, business once again added jobs for the 30th month in a row, a total of more than 4.6 million jobs. But that’s not good enough. We know it’s not good enough, we need to create more jobs faster, we need to fill the hole left by this recession faster, we need to come out of this crisis stronger than when we went in,” said President Obama.
In Orange City, Iowa, Romney called President Obama’s convention speech “disappointing” and said the latest monthly jobs figure demonstrate the failure of Obama’s policies.
“Ninety-five-thousand I believe net new jobs created and almost 400,000 people dropped out of the workforce altogether. It’s just simply unimaginable. The president said that by this time we would be at 5.4 percent unemployment, 5.4 percent. Instead we’re at about 8 percent. And you know the difference that makes in how many people would be working in America? Nine million people. Had he been able to keep his promise,” said Romney.
White House and Obama campaign officials sounded cautious notes about any potential positive “bump” for the president in opinion polls following the Democratic convention, and strong speeches by former president Bill Clinton and others.
Obama campaign official Jen Psaki said Obama believes he did what he needed to do to remind Americans of the challenges the country faced and tough decisions Obama made, and lay out a path forward.
In his convention speech, Obama said he is “eager” to reach an agreement with Republicans in Congress on debt and deficit problems. But he rejected Republican proposals for tax breaks favoring the wealthy to bring down the deficit.
Press secretary Jay Carney urged Republicans to work with Obama for a compromise on a balanced and fair fiscal solution to avoid a $109 billion automatic budget cut at the end of year, known as “sequestration.”
The cuts are required under a deficit reduction agreement reached in 2011 that provides for $1.2 trillion in reductions over the next decade.
The White House has delayed by a week a report detailing how mandatory reductions would impact government agencies and programs.
Next week, Obama returns to two other key swing states – Nevada and Colorado. Obama campaign officials say former president Clinton will also travel in support of the Obama re-election effort, going to Ohio and Florida.