Republican presidential candidates used the Friday release of monthly jobs numbers -- which were better than expected -- to lambast President Obama's policies at the end of one of the worst weeks for the economy during his time in office.
"When you see what this president has done to the economy in just three years, you know why America doesn't want to find out what he can do in eight," said Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
In an increasingly contentious Republican primary, it was an opportunity for all the candidates to take a break from attacking one another and instead focus their fire on the man all of them hope to defeat. Even though the economy gained 117,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell a point to 9.1 percent last month, the July jobs report served only to relieve markets and observers who had feared further erosion following a precipitous 512 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced late last week that the economy grew during the first quarter of this year by only 0.4 percent, rather than the 1.9 percent predicted in a preliminary report. The preliminary number for second-quarter growth was only 1.3 percent. Economists say the U.S. economy needs to grow at a rate of 4 to 6 percent to fully emerge from recession.
"In the last week, the stock market suffered its worst day in years, economic growth was revised down and consumer confidence dropped," said former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), whose statement mentioned the word "market" four times, said: "It's time for the President to admit what the markets, the world, and the American people already know -- his trillion dollar stimulus was a failure, the government can't create jobs, and massive spending kills them."
READ the candidates' full statements:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Statement on Jobs Report
"Today's dismal jobs report is a far cry from the hope and change that President Obama promised on the campaign trail. Since the President took office, unemployment has risen 17%, the federal debt has increased 37% and gas prices have doubled. In the last week, the stock market suffered its worst day in years, economic growth was revised down and consumer confidence dropped. Despite these clear and abundant signs that our economy is floundering, President Obama has still failed to deliver a concrete plan to create jobs and promote growth. This lack of leadership is inexcusable and driving our economy toward decline. It's time for a new president to point us back in the right direction, and I am the only candidate who has proposed a specific economic plan that will create jobs and grow our economy. "
Urbandale, Iowa -- Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has issued the following statement on today's jobless report showing unemployment at 9.1 percent:
"Despite today's jobs report showing a slight improvement, with 9.1 percent unemployment, it is still evidence that the President's failed economic policies are digging us deeper into a hole. The President created twice as many donors for his campaign as he created jobs in the second quarter. This week the President was handed a $2.4 trillion blank check and in return the American people got a mere $21 billion in promised spending cuts, the erosion of their personal savings in the worst stock market drop since 2008, and the promise of higher taxes before the ink had dried on the budget deal. It's time for the President to admit what the markets, the world, and the American people already know -- his trillion dollar stimulus was a failure, the government can't create jobs, and massive spending kills them.
"This week the President announced that he would again pivot to focus his attention on jobs. We can only hope he will pivot away from his failed economic policies that have killed growth and put millions of Americans out of work. What the markets want and what the country needs is a fundamental restructuring in the way Washington spends taxpayers dollars that reins in unprecedented spending, gets our debt under control, and encourages pro-growth economic policies. The President can attempt to blame and spin away this week's bad economic news, but you can't fool the markets. Mr. President -- the only way to dig us out of this hole your administration has gotten us into is to stop digging."
Boston, MA -- Mitt Romney today released the following statement on the July unemployment report:
"Today's unemployment report represents the 30th straight month that the jobless rate has been above 8 percent. The administration promised with their $800 billion stimulus that they would keep unemployment below that number. When you see what this president has done to the economy in just three years, you know why America doesn't want to find out what he can do in eight."
Orlando -- Gov. Jon Huntsman today released the following statement on July's unemployment numbers:
"The President has had 2.5 years to turn around the American economy and it is clear he has failed. In less than one day, Americans have witnessed a considerable drop in the stock market and yet another jobs report showing an unemployment rate above 9%. When President Obama should have been focused on creating jobs, he focused on a government-mandated health care system that the American people didn't ask for and can't afford. What we can't afford now is to waste any more time. We need to implement the type of pro-growth policies and free-market reforms that made Utah the top state for job creation when I was Governor. America needs a President who knows how to create an economic environment that allows entrepreneurs to thrive and create jobs. This country will never realize its true economic potential until we enact tax cuts, implement regulatory reform and move toward energy independence."