Mitt Romney said President Barack Obama doesn’t deserve credit for good news about the economy, saying the man he hopes to replace in November has stymied U.S. growth.
“This president has not helped the process, he’s hurt it,” Romney, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, told 14 local businessmen he met with at a home-and-yard supply company in Sparks, Nev. “If I’m the president, I will see what you do as being a very good thing, a patriotic and good thing.”
In data announced today, the U.S. jobless rate unexpectedly fell in January to the lowest in three years as payrolls climbed more than forecast. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, the lowest since February 2009. The 243,000 increase in jobs was the biggest in nine months and exceeded all forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.
Romney, campaigning a day before Nevada holds caucuses that polls show he will win, called the numbers “good news,” before targeting Obama for criticism.
The economy “has taken a lot longer than it should have to come back, in part because of the policies of this administration,” Romney said. “For that, the president deserves the blame that he’ll receive in this campaign.”
Obama, in remarks today in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Va., said the jobs data show “the economy is growing stronger,” and the recovery “is speeding up.” His re-election prospects hinge partly on public perceptions of whether the jobs situation is improving.
Nevada, which Obama won in the 2008 presidential election, is seen by political analysts as a battleground in this November’s election. Obama visited Las Vegas last week as part of a campaign-like tour after his State of the Union address.
The state had the nation’s highest unemployment rate, 12.6 percent, in December. For the fifth straight year, Nevada also had the highest rate of foreclosure filings in 2011, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a data seller in Irvine, California.
Romney said today Obama has focused on promoting partisan measures as president, pushing through “a number of pieces of legislation that his base voters wanted that frankly made it very hard for enterprises to recover.”
He also said banks have slowed their lending out of concern over increased federal regulation.
“They’ve become less flexible and not more flexible at a time when they should be more flexible,” he said.
Romney’s economic event came a day after he won the backing of Donald Trump, the real estate developer and reality television star who appeared with the former Massachusetts governor in Las Vegas to make his endorsement.
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