Obama: America not at war with Islam

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One day after a disappointing monthly jobs report, President Obama focused his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday on noting the upcoming anniversary of September 11.

“The last decade has been a difficult one, but together, we have … come back stronger as a nation,” Mr. Obama said.

The president, locked in a dead heat in national polls with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, reminded listeners again that 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden died on his watch.

“Thanks to the courage and skill of our intelligence personnel and armed forces, Osama bin Laden will never threaten America again,” Mr. Obama said.

“I have always said that America is at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates — and we will never be at war with Islam or any other religion.”

The president also doubled down on his 2008 campaign promise to end the wars that resulted from 9-11.

“We’ve ended the war in Iraq and brought our troops home,” he said. “And by the end 2014, the transition in Afghanistan will be complete and our war there will be over.”

The Republican weekly address, from Wyoming Sen. John Barrassso, followed up on Friday’s jobs report with criticism of the president’s economic policies.

“President Obama says he deserves a grade of ‘incomplete’ on his handling of the economy,” Mr. Barrasso said. “But people only ask for an incomplete when they know they’re failing.”

The unemployment rate last month fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent as 96,000 more people found jobs and 368,000 dropped out of the labor market, the Labor Department reported Friday morning.

The job gains in August, while tepid, spanned a wide range of industries from health care and restaurants to utilities and computer system design. Most of the positions were permanent; employment in temporary jobs has slowed to a trickle this year.

Despite the slow but steady flow of new jobs onto the market, many job-seekers appeared to get discouraged during the month and dropped out of the labor force. Of the 368,000 who stopped looking for work, likely many returned to school for the beginning of the fall semester. The department also reported that there were 41,000 fewer new jobs available in June and July than it previously estimated.

Staff writer Patrice Hill contributed to this story.

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