- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2012

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Monday that the Obama administration is misleading the public into thinking that the dip in the national unemployment rate proves the Democrat’s economic policies are working.

The former Massachusetts governor told a crowd gathered for a town hall-style meeting in Euclid, Ohio, the unemployment rate has fallen almost 2 percentage points since October 2009 because people have stopped looking for work — not because of Mr. Obama’s policies.

“There is something about that 8.1 percent figure you ought to know,” he said. “You might assume that that number came down from 10 percent to 8.1 percent because of all the jobs that were created, and that assumption would be wrong. The reason that percent came down was because of all the people that dropped out of the workforce.”

Only people working or looking for work are counted in the unemployment rate. Economists contend the decline in the unemployment rate in the past several quarters is due in large part to those who have given up looking for work.

Mr. Romney said the Obama administration failed to deliver on its promise that the $787 billion stimulus package passed in 2010 would drive unemployment to less than 8 percent.

“It is not that more people … have been able to find jobs,” he said. “Instead, it is that a number of people have dropped out of the workforce and that’s why the percentage has come down.”

The former Massachusetts governor’s comments came as a new USA Today/Gallup poll of swing states shows Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama in a virtual tie in the dozen battleground states, including Ohio, that are expected to determine who calls the White House home for the next four years.

The poll also included warning signs for both men: Mr. Romney has yet to generate a lot of enthusiasm for his candidacy, while Mr. Obama has yet to convince voters he is to be trusted on the economic front.

The Obama campaign, meanwhile, released a new ad, titled “Go,” on Monday that touts the revival of the auto industry, the death of Osama bin Laden and the end of the Iraq War.

“Instead of losing jobs, we’re creating them — over 4.2 million so far. We are not there yet. It is still too hard for too many. But we are coming back because America’s greatness comes from a strong middle class because you don’t quit and neither does he,” the narrator says, alluding to Mr. Obama.

The Romney campaign immediately countered that the Obama administration will try to hide how it has “wreaked havoc on the middle class.”

“After a doubling of gas prices, declining incomes, millions of foreclosures and record levels of unemployment, Americans know they’re not better off than they were four years ago,” said Amanda Henneberg, a Romney campaign spokeswoman.

Last month, Mr. Romney basically wrapped up the Republican nomination after former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania dropped out.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ended his bid last week, leaving Rep. Ron Paul of Texas as Mr. Romney’s last remaining rival.

Since then, Mr. Romney has been traveling the country raising money for his campaign. He planned to attend another fundraiser later Monday in Indianapolis.

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