GOP hopeful Rick Santorum found a way on Friday to give Republicans credit for the lowest unemployment rate in three years.


Speaking to a crowd at a town hall event in Keene, New Hampshire, the Republican presidential candidate said that the economy added 200,000 nonfarm jobs last month because people were hopeful President Barack Obama was not going to be re-elected in 2012.

"I'm very gratified to see that in spite of President Obama's policies, the job market is beginning to pick up a little bit," the candidate opined.

"I think there might just be some optimism that maybe Republicans are going to take the White House," Santorum added with a smile. "Maybe that's spurring people to start taking some risks. I'll take that as a reason."

The Labor Department said earlier Friday that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent, the lowest since February 2009. Most analysts had expected unemployment to rise to 8.7 percent.

Watch this video from CNN, uploaded Jan. 6, 2012.