But the specter of the slowing jobs market loomed over the president’s remarks as he again pressed Congress to support his economic agenda.
“The economy is growing again, but not as fast as we want it to grow,” Obama told a crowd at the Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions manufacturing facility here, just outside Minneapolis.
Citing the European debt crisis and high gasoline prices, Obama added that formidable obstacles “cast a shadow” over the U.S. economy.
“We have lot work to do to get where we need to be,” Obama said. “All these factors make it all the more challenging not just to recover but to lay the foundation for an economy built to last over the long term. But that’s our job.”
The monthly jobs numbers came as the Obama campaign has been under constant assault from Republican challenger Mitt Romney over the president’s stewardship of the economy. The debate has prompted a strong reaction from Obama, who has opened a double-barreled attack on Romney’s record on jobs during his time as head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, and as Massachusetts governor.
Polls show that voters consider the weak economy the most important issue of the campaign, and both camps have pressed their cases in swing states with heavy appeals to independent voters.
Romney, whose campaign has centered on his business acumen as he seeks to convince voters he can oversee a faster economic recovery, pounced on the weak jobs report to hammer Obama.
The numbers are a “harsh indictment of the president’s handling of the economy,” Romney said in a statement. “It is now clear to everyone that President Obama’s policies have failed to achieve their goals and that the Obama economy is crushing America’s middle class.”
Minnesota, a reliably Democratic state in presidential elections, has a remarkably low unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. But as he has for months, Obama used the stop at the Honeywell plant to demand that Congress support a series of White House proposals that the president said would quickly boost job creation.
The five proposals, which Obama calls a Congressional “to-do list,” include tax breaks for companies that return jobs from overseas and low-interest loans for homeowners seeking to refinance. At Honeywell, Obama emphasized a proposal to create a Veterans Jobs Corps to help veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars find jobs that meet their skills upon leaving the military.
Obama has sought to use congressional Republicans as a foil to highlight his administration’s effort to take stronger actions, which he says have been stymied by an obstructionist GOP intent on winning political points in an election year.