Romney: Jobs report a 'kick in the gut'

(CBS News) WOLFEBORO, N.H. -- Mitt Romney called the June jobs report released on Friday "a kick in the gut to middle-class families," as he said the continuing high unemployment numbers demonstrate that President Obama's policies have failed to create jobs and stimulate the manufacturing sector.

"There is a lot of misery in America today, and these numbers understate what people are feeling and the amount of pain which is occurring in middle-class America," said Romney, who interrupted his weeklong New Hampshire family vacation to speak with reporters. "Not only is the 8.2 percent number unacceptably high, and one that has been in place now for over 41 months, but in addition, if you look at the broader analysis of people who are out of work, or have dropped out of the workforce or that are underemployed in part-time jobs, needing full time work, it's almost 15 percent of the American public."

Noting that recent reports show manufacturing growth has stagnated just as Obama embarked on a bus tour through the middle of the country, Romney asked, "How do you go across Pennsylvania and Ohio and not talk about being serious about creating jobs through manufacturing policies that make America more attractive for investment and growth?"

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks about job numbers, Friday, July 6, 2012, at Bradley's Hardware in Wolfeboro, N.H.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

He said his own policies to increase energy production, expand trade in areas such as Latin America, crack down on China and reform the tax code will improve the economy.

"It doesn't have to be this way. America can do better and this kick in the gut has got to end," he said.

The president frequently cites outside factors to explain the stubbornly high unemployment rate. During his tenure as Massachusetts governor, Romney used a similar phrase in 2006 when he was explaining a disappointing jobs report, according to a video being circulated by Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century.

Asked about the statement during his press conference on Friday, Romney said, "In any jobs figures, there are going to be factors that come and go that you can't control." But he said that Obama's policies had failed for too long for the jobs report to be a a mere monthly or even yearly statistic.

Romney also sought to reassert his opposition to the president's health care law after he contradicted his senior adviser in a recent CBS News interview about whether the mandate qualifies as a penalty or a tax.

"I've spoken about health care from the day we passed it in Massachusetts, and people said is this something that you'd apply at the federal level and I said no," Romney said in response to a question about whether he was abandoning the support of an individual mandate in the law he passed in Massachusetts. "I said the right course for the federal government is to allow states to create their own plans, and by the way, the proof is that I was right. Because Obamacare is costing jobs in America. When three-quarters of small businesses say that they're less likely to hire people because of Obamacare -- you know the president has put his liberal agenda, Obamacare, ahead of the interest of creating jobs," he said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called the jobs report "devastating news," saying the hallmark of the economy under the Obama administration was "chronically high unemployment."

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.