Romney, GOP hammer Obama over sluggish economy

Political fallout of bad jobs numbers
With the Presidential election just 6 months away, what will the political fallout be for the anemic May jobs report? Rebecca Jarvis and Anthony Mason asked this of CBS News political director John Dickerson.

(CBS News) WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney and his supporters hit the campaign trail hard over the weekend, attacking President Obama's economic policies after Friday's weak jobs report.

Financial markets in Europe and Asia were falling Monday morning, following Friday's big drop on Wall Street.

The president is not only facing new economic trouble at home, he also has to deal with Europe's growing debt crisis, which he can't control.

The dismal jobs report Friday were a heavy blow to Mr. Obama's campaign, because it reminds the nation just how far the economy has to go to recover. And there's only a three or four month window now before many voters pretty much decide what they're going to do in November.

So Republicans, including Romney, jumped on the slow job growth as a sign the president can't deliver what he promised. Romney told supporters, "If there's improvement, it's not because of" the president, "it's in spite of him."

Other Republicans also hammered home that message.

"The problem is this administration and this president and policies are hostile to job creators," asserted Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie, on Fox News.

Fellow senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom took aim at Mr. Obama's qualifications on "ABC This Week" that, saying he "came into office without any prior experience running anything."

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And on the CBS News broadcast "Face the Nation," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared, "He's a president who's in love with the sound of his own voice, but hasn't been able to follow through on too many promises."

In the wake of the news Friday that last month's unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point to 8.2 percent, and with the knowledge that no president has won re-election when unemployment was higher than 7.4 percent, Mr. Obama's campaign is trying to shift the blame in a moment when there are no easy answers.

On the CBS News broadcast "Face the Nation," chief strategist David Axelrod opened a new line of attack on Congress, calling members "architects of obstruction," who need to step up and step in.

"Instead of high-fiving each other on days when there are bad news," Axelrod said, "they should stop sitting on their hands and work on some of these answers."

The president had the same message in his weekly radio and Internet address, saying, "My message to Congress is, let's get to work. ... It's not lost on anybody ... that this is an election year. But we've got responsibilities that are bigger than an election."

Republicans say the president's proposal, which includes several tax reforms, won't change the trajectory of the economy.

But there are also politics in play.

The Republican-controlled House is unlikely to do anything that could help the president.

Some members remember 1996, when Bill Clinton was running for re-election and cut a deal with Republicans. Mr. Clinton looked like a leader, at the expense of his GOP challenger, Bob Dole.

Mr. Clinton has publicly encouraged the president to better explain his accomplishments.

On CNN with Piers Morgan, the former president said, "If we can get that out, I think he'll be just fine. And I think he'll be re- elected."

Mr. Clinton's interview last week was a very public signal to the president and his campaign staff to change course. Mr. Clinton obviously believes the president's attacks on Romney are a mistake, and that he needs to emphasize what he'd do in a second term.

Mr. Clinton and the president are appearing together Monday night at a fundraiser in New York City, so the former president may have a chance to make his argument directly to Mr. Obama.

To see Bill Plante's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent