PITTSBURGH — Mitt Romney took his attack on President Obama’s economic policies to a factory here Friday, again using the sluggish April unemployment report to make his point.
Repeating what he had told Fox News earlier in the day, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said that job growth was disappointing and that the unemployment rate had dropped for the wrong reasons.
“That was well beneath what it was expected to be,” Romney said of the jobs numbers released Friday morning by the Labor Department. “It should have been in the 100,000s, but it wasn’t.”
Romney set a high bar for success, saying “anything over 4 percent [unemployment] is not cause for celebration.”
The economy gained 115,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate dipped from 8.2 percent to 8.1 percent, according to government data. But Romney said that hidden within those topline numbers was the problem of workers dropping out of the labor force.
“So many became discouraged, they stopped looking for work,” he said. “And if they stop looking for work, the statisticians are able to say, ‘Oh, the unemployment rate is lower now because not so many people want to work.’”
“The numbers don’t tell you what’s going on in people’s lives,” Romney said, speaking in front of pallets of acid-proof concrete at the Sauereisen company, which manufactures construction materials.
Romney slammed Obama over a host of domestic policies, including energy production, defense spending cuts, tax policy, the overall size of government, and the president’s signature health-care law.
“He’s out of ideas, he’s out of excuses, and in 2012 it’s time to make sure we put him out of office,” Romney said to sustained applause and cheers from the crowd, which the campaign estimated at 400 people.
Romney also chastised Obama’s reelection campaign as being inflammatory.
“One of the things that has most disappointed me about this president is that his campaign seems to be based on dividing Americans, pitting one American against another, attacking success,” Romney said. “Some of the rhetoric is too hot from both sides of the aisle. You’ve got to lay off that.”
Romney met earlier in the day with Rick Santorum, a former senator from the state and a former rival for the GOP nomination, at the Pittsburgh office of Santorum adviser John Brabender.
The meeting lasted 90 minutes with only the two politicians in the room, Brabender said, adding that although he wasn’t privy to what was discussed, it looked “productive.”
“I got the sense from watching them afterward that it was very friendly but very candid,” Brabender said. “Both of them wanted to get to know each other a little bit better. They never really had a chance to sit down.”
Santorum has not officially endorsed Romney although he has shown support for the former Massachusetts governor.
“I think all Republicans will come together in the final analysis and support my candidacy,” Romney said during the Fox interview. “We said so on the stage when we were running in debates against one another.”