After tepid jobs report, Obama promotes his job creation record

(CBS News) At his first campaign event following the Democratic convention and after the release of a tepid jobs report, President Obama walked a delicate line Friday between showing concern about the disappointing jobs numbers and highlighting incremental progress.

Friday's monthly jobs report revealed that the economy added 96,000 jobs in August, a figure that indicates jobs are still being added -- but not at the rate economists, politicians and the unemployed had hoped. The jobs report is lower than the year's monthly average of 139,000 and even lower than the 153,000 jobs averaged per month in 2011.

At his 50th campaign rally since officially launching his re-election bid on May 5, Mr. Obama told a crowd in Portsmouth, N.H., that while the economy continues to add jobs, challenges still exist.

"I'm not going to pretend this path is quick or easy. It's going to take more than a few years." He added, "That's not good enough."

Accentuating the positive, the president indicated that the U.S. has now seen 30 straight months of job growth resulting in 4.6 million new jobs.

He went on to tell the crowd that his work isn't done. "That's why I'm running for a second term, to finish the job, to keep moving forward, to build on the progress we've made," he said.

While Mr. Obama was speaking in New Hampshire, his Republican rival Mitt Romney was at a campaign rally in Iowa. Both candidates are back on the campaign trail as the general election officially gets under way following both parties' conventions.

The president echoed many themes Friday that he had laid out Thursday night in his convention speech. He drew a contrast between his vision for the country and his challenger's, saying that now is the "clearest choice" in a generation. "It's a choice between two different paths for America," he said.

The president said he believes in a country where people have "obligations to each other" and government can play a role in providing opportunity. He described Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan's plan as a rehash of Republican ideas.

"Tax cuts, tax cuts, cuts to regulations, and, oh, more tax cuts," the president argued. "Tax cuts when times are good, tax cuts when times are bad... tax cuts to improve your love life. It will cure anything."

The president outlined his plan for five key policy areas in energy, education, job creation, national security and deficit reduction. He said he would create 1 million new manufacturing jobs in four years, raise taxes on incomes above $250,000, cut oil imports in half by 2020, reduce by half the growth of college tuition, and "sustain the strongest military the world has ever known."

"I am not just asking for your vote, I'm asking the entire country to rally around a series of goals for our country," he said.

Attempting to inspire the crowd and invoke an element of his 2008 campaign theme "hope," the president said those who voted for him can take credit for his accomplishments, including the health care law and decreasing the cost of obtaining a student loan.

"You're the reason why. You did that. So now you can't turn away. You can't give up on the idea that hope makes a difference because if you give up, the lobbyists and the special interests will fill the void," he said.

For the next two months until Election Day, both candidates will spend most of their time traveling to the 10 or so battleground states - states including New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida and Ohio, where the outcome is in doubt.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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