As the unemployment rate hit a three-year low of 8.1 percent on Friday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney escalated attacks on President Barack Obama by moving the bar to 4 percent.
“Just this morning there was some news that came across the wire that said that the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.1 percent,” the former Massachusetts governor told a group of supporters in Pittsburgh. “And normally, that would be cause for celebration, but, in fact, anything over 8 percent, anything near 8 percent — anything over 4 percent is not a cause for celebration.”
“But, in fact, the reason it dropped from 8.2 to 8.1 was not because we created a lot of jobs — as a mater of fact, only 115,000 net new jobs were created. That was well beneath what it was expected to be. It should have been in the hundreds of thousands, but it wasn’t. The reason the rate came down was because about 340,000 people dropped out of the workforce.”
He continued: “I think it helps to have a job to create a job. And I have and I will. Now, people ask me, what will I do to help create jobs? And one thing I know I’m not going to do is go and hire a bunch more people in the federal government. … First of all, I’d take away one of the things that frightens entrepreneurs and innovators and businesses of all kinds from hiring. I’ll get rid of Obamacare!”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, no Republican president in the last 40 years has lowered the unemployment rate below 4 percent. Under Democratic President Bill Clinton, the rate was below 4 percent for five months in 2000.
Earlier on Friday, Romney had told Fox News that Obama should be creating at least 500,000 jobs per month, something that had only happened four times in the the last 50 years.
The Republican candidate explained to the crowd in Pittsburgh on Friday that he gained a lot of insight by privately meeting with business owners.
“The numbers don’t really tell you what’s going on in people’s lives,” he said. “Before I begin an event like this, I typically am able to sit down with a few people, and in an off-the-record kind of basis, I agree not to say who they are to members of my media — not my media! I don’t have my media. I wish I had my media.”
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast May 4, 2012.