Republican leaders rallied behind presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney as President Barack Obama officially began his re-election bid in the swing states of Ohio and Virginia.
Newt Gingrich and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who both dropped out of this year’s Republican primary contest, said Romney, 65, would prove better at creating jobs and reducing the country’s debt than Democrat Obama. Each had criticized Romney during the primary campaign for failing to be sufficiently conservative.
“Compared to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney is a solid conservative,” Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “As far as I’m concerned, I’ve endorsed him.”
The onetime Republican candidates spoke a day after Obama officially started his campaign by giving back-to-back speeches emphasizing populist themes and signs of economic progress since he was elected in 2008. The economy will be the dominant issue in the November election and Obama is seeking to make the case that, while the recovery has been uneven, his presidency has helped pull the U.S. out of a recession and reduced the unemployment rate.
“There have been disappointments, but we didn’t quit,” Obama, 50, said yesterday. “Together, we are fighting our way back.”
American employers in April added the fewest number of jobs in six months and wages stagnated, adding to concern that the nearly three-year-old economic expansion is cooling. The 115,000 increase in payrolls was less than forecast, Labor Department figures showed last week in Washington.
Both campaigns are preparing for a close election, with the most recent Gallup daily tracking poll, completed May 4, showing the race essentially tied. Obama received support from 46 percent of those polled and Romney got 45 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential Republican vice presidential pick, called the latest jobs report “abysmal” and said Obama was trying to blame Republicans for the country’s current economic condition because his own polices have failed.
“Things keep getting worse under his watch,” Rubio said today on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “He doesn’t want to run on that record.”
Obama “asked us to hire him four years ago on the promise that he knew how to fix this economy,” Rubio said. “That’s the standard we should judge him by. The standard he set.”
He said Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the administration’s “bad policies with regards to the economy.”
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