October 5, 2012, 6:37 PM
Romney Highlights His Jobs Plan in Coal Country
By Colleen McCain Nelson http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-UW260_romney_G_20121005181135.jpg
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns at Carter Machinery in Abingdon, Va., Friday, Oct. 5, 2012.
ABINGDON, Va. – Mitt Romney highlighted his objective of achieving energy independence and downplayed Friday’s jobs report, telling supporters in southwest Virginia that unemployment has inched downward “very, very slowly.”
One of Mr. Romney’s central criticisms of President Barack Obama has been that the unemployment rate hadn’t dipped below 8% in 43 months. The new report showed unemployment at 7.8%, but Mr. Romney said the number didn’t tell the whole story.
“The reason it’s come down this year is primarily due to the fact that more and more people have just stopped looking for work,” Mr. Romney said, adding that once they give up, they no longer show up in employment statistics.
“The truth is if the same share of people were participating in the workforce today as on the day the president got elected, our unemployment rate would be around 11%,” Mr. Romney said. “That’s the real reality of what’s happening out there.”
Mr. Romney has made job creation a key part of his plan for strengthening the middle class, pledging to create more than 12 million jobs. He reiterated that promise Friday, saying that a Romney administration would spur employment growth and higher take-home pay.
The Republican presidential nominee drew a crowd of about 3,300 at a stop in coal country, where he highlighted his objective of achieving energy independence. Mr. Romney tried to cast the president as an opponent of coal, while saying that he wants to make use of all of the country’s energy resources.
“I don’t believe in putting our coal under the ground forever,” he said.
Before speaking at the rally, Mr. Romney met with coal-industry workers who recently had been laid off. He later told the crowd assembled that he wanted to put America back to work.
“I want to make sure your jobs stay here, grow here and provide a bright future for your family,” Mr. Romney said.
Lis Smith, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, said Mr. Romney’s proposals would mean a return to the policies that caused job losses in the first place.
“Independent economists say his plans would not create jobs, could slow the recovery, and could actually cost us two million jobs over the next two years,” she said. “The American people want to move forward, not back.”
Mr. Romney continued to draw enthusiastic crowds on the heels of the first presidential debate. After winning favorable reviews for his first head-to-head match-up with the president, Mr. Romney told supporters that it was a good experience.
“It was a debate of substance,” Mr. Romney said. “We talked about the issues that America faces. I got the chance to ask the president some questions I think people across the country have wanted to ask the president.”