SIOUX CITY, Iowa — In a press conference on a tarmac here, Mitt Romney told reporters that Friday's unexpectedly weak jobs report was the latest evidence that President Obama is out of his depth in dealing with the economy — and dismissed his speech as arguing for "four more years of the last four years."
"There's almost nothing the president has done in the past three and a half, four years that gives the American people confidence that he knows what he's doing when it comes to jobs and the economy," Romney said. "And there's certainly nothing that he said last night that gives the American people confidence he knows what he would do to create jobs or build a stronger economy."
He also defended against Obama's assertion Thursday night that Romney is offering the same policy prescriptions that caused the recession, attempting to contrast his own "five-step plan" with that of the incumbent — and President George W. Bush.
As he outlined the bullet points in his economic plan, he twice contrasted them with Bush's policies. For example, when talking about his goal to balance the federal budget, he said, "President Bush and President Obama, neither one made the conscious steps on that front that I think needed to be made."
According to the Labor Department, just 96,000 jobs were created in August, well below estimates. Additionally, estimates for June and July were revised down: the unemployment rate ticked down from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, but economists attributed that to a shrinking workforce.
Still, despite an extremely tepid recovery, Romney has lagged behind in swing state polls throughout the general election. Asked how he planned to break the race open, Romney said he would stick to his economic message.
"I think that the message from last night was that the president's plan is four more years of the four last years, and I don't think the American people want four more years of the four last years," Romney said.
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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