Republican Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
Declaring that the nation is in a "jobs crisis," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is charging ahead with his economic arguments in spite of unemployment dropping to its lowest level since President Barack Obama took office.
Romney all but ignored the positive jobs numbers while campaigning Friday night in Florida, instead highlighting his strong debate performance and presenting a more compassionate message as he sought to overcome Obama's narrow lead in the polls. He made clear earlier in the day that he did not agree with the president's assessment that the unemployment statistic — it dipped from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent in September — is a sign of an economy heading in the right direction, reports The Associated Press.
"By any rational measure, it's crystal clear we're in the middle of a jobs crisis," Romney said in a fundraising message to supporters. "My priority is jobs. And from Day One of my presidency, I will lead us out of this crisis."
Obama said the creation of 114,000 jobs in September, coupled with the drop in unemployment, was "a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now." Jabbing at his rival's plans, the president declared, "We've made too much progress to return to the policies that caused this crisis in the first place."
Obama was planning to spend Saturday celebrating the 20th wedding anniversary he had put aside because it fell on the day of the debate. With Vice President Joe Biden and Romney running mate Paul Ryan forgoing public events ahead of their own debate, on Thursday in Danville, Ky., Romney has the stage to himself for a campaign event near Orlando, Fla.
Aides say Romney would spend part of Saturday preparing for his next debate with Obama, scheduled for October 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., before speaking at an evening rally. The president's team says he hasn't had any formal practice sessions since the first debate.
While sticking with his focus on economic issues, Romney was also bringing up intimate details of friendships that had ended in death as part of a shift to present himself in more personal terms. His wife, Ann, has often talked about Romney's compassionate side, but the former Massachusetts governor rarely discusses it publicly.
At a rally in St. Petersburg., Romney recalled the time he spent with a young teenager dying of leukaemia, returning to a story the boy's parents had related from the stage of the Republican National Convention. "I've seen the character of a young man like David, who wasn't emotional or crying. He had his eyes wide open," Romney said Friday night. "There's a saying: Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose. David couldn't lose. I loved that young man."