Reporting Tim Kephart
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSMiami) – President Barack Obama came off a widely-lauded Democratic National Convention Friday with a stark reminder of just how far the country has to go to recover from the deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
A disappointing jobs report for August showed that just 96,000 jobs were created. More than 100,000 private sector jobs were created, but they were offset by 7,000 jobs lost in the public sector. In addition, more than 300,000 workers left the work force completely.
“If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover,” Republican nominee Mitt Romney said of the August jobs report.
“This is not even close to what a recovery looks like,” GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said in an interview on CNBC. “I would argue this is the result of failed leadership in Washington, bad fiscal policy coming from the administration.”
While much of the blame falls on President Obama, the difficulty facing the Republican Party is that they are not without blame in the jobs crisis either. Many of the policies Romney/Ryan want to return to helped spark the recession and obstructionism in Congress has slowed nearly every piece of meaningful legislation.
The November election could turn on whether voters see the economy as improving, remaining stagnant or getting worse under Obama.
Friday’s numbers gave both campaigns something to work with. Supporters of the president focused on the drop to 8.1 percent, suggesting it shows the economy is on the mend, if slowly. Republicans kept their eyes on the raw job numbers.
Either way, the numbers suggest that not much has happened over the past month to change the overall picture of a slow recovery.
“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have,” Obama told Democrats at their convention Thursday night. “You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”
Both candidates now turn their attention squarely to the battleground states including Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and possibly North Carolina. Most of the focus of the next 60 days of campaigning will be focused on those states.
The two campaigns are seeking to figure out the safest path to 270 Electoral College votes. Currently, the polling favors President Obama, but with three presidential debates along with two more jobs reports ahead, things can change quickly.
One thing that has become clear is that political advertising is going to spike in the next two months. The Romney campaign immediately went up with millions of dollars worth of ads less than 24 hours after the Democratic National Convention.
The campaign finance numbers favor Romney to be able to spend far more money on advertising in the next month, including a massive Super PAC advantage Republicans currently hold. Whether voters will be easily swayed by negative ads over the next two months could decide the election.
In his prime-time speech Thursday night, Obama cast the election as a stark choice of competing visions about the country and the role of government. He described a nation where the government bailed out desperate automakers, a move Romney opposed, and saved thousands of jobs. Obama contrasted that with a Republican approach that he argued sees tax cuts as a solution to all problems and focuses on the individual.
“Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning,” Obama said in a mocking tone.
Patience was the watchword at the three-day Democratic convention in Charlotte as delegates roared through Obama’s speech and frequently chanted “Four more years.
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