Steve Benen flags a Mitt Romney interview with Mark Halperin, in which Romney pushed back on criticism of his Bain years by claiming that Obama didn’t create “any new jobs.” Romney said:

“I’ll compare my experience in the private sector where, net-net, we created over 100,000 jobs. We created over 100,000 jobs. I’ll compare that record with his record where he has not created any new jobs. This President has seen a reduction in jobs, 25 million people out of work or stop looking for work or in part-time jobs needing full-time employed. So, we’ll have that debate. ”

Halperin didn’t bother challenging Romney on this claim. But as Steve notes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the private sector has added around 2.3 million jobs since March of 2010.

Not only that, but it’s clear Romney knows it’s false to make this claim. In previous statements, the Romney campaign has been careful to qualify this assertion by saying that Obama didn’t create a single “net” new job. That’s an accurate claim in the most narrow of technical terms. The situation that Obama inherited was so catastrophic that the economy continued hemorraging jobs at a furious rate for months and months until Obama’s stimulus kicked in; as a result, the numbers overall are still negative. But even that assertion ignores the fact that the stats clearly show that job loss slowed, and eventually turned around into job gain, once Obama’s policies began taking effect. Romney must know the claim that Obama didn’t create “any new jobs” is false.

Did Romney mean to make a comparison of net numbers? Perhaps, but Romney did say that Obama didn’t create any “new” jobs. Either way, Halperin didn’t press him for any clarification. And there’s good cause to believe that Romney meant to make this claim in its false incarnation. He has also repeatedly claimed that Obama made the economy “worse,” even though that assertion, too, has been debunked.

Look, Romney is going to make the claims that Obama didn’t create any jobs, and that he made the economy worse, countless times between now and next fall. They will be central to his entire campaign rationale. Can we please start pressing him to justify it when he says this stuff?

UPDATE: I should have noted that the private sector added 2.3 million new jobs since March 2010; I’ve edited the above to correct. As I noted in the original post, the overall net total is still negative. But it’s still flatly false to claim that Obama didn’t create “any new jobs,” for the reasons detailed above.