A strong US jobs report gave President Barack Obama an upbeat end to a startling week, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney finally addressed his disparaging remarks about 47 per cent of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes, calling his words “just completely wrong”.
The government’s new jobs report showed t the country’s unemployment rate fell to 7.8 per cent last month, dropping below 8 per cent for the first time in nearly four years.
Unemployment had been at 8.1 per cent.
The report broke an important psychological barrier before the November 6 election. No president has been re-elected with unemployment above 8 per cent since the Great Depression.
The final monthly jobs report before the election will come just days before November 6.
Mr Romney’s campaign had been hit hard by the secretly taped remarks that emerged last month, in which he said he could not convince nearly half the country to “take personal responsibility” for their lives. Widespread anger over Mr Romney’s remarks had helped to give Obama’s campaign a liftas people again worried that the multimillionaire was out of touch with ordinary Americans.
But Mr Romney’s assertive debate performance this week against a tired-seeming Mr Obama rallied Republicans again to his side.
Mr Obama notably did not mention Mr Romney’s “47 per cent” comment during the debate, but Mr Romney brought it up in a Fox News interview, saying the remarks, which he had once dismissed as “not elegantly stated”, were wrong.
“Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right,” Mr Romney said. “In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong.”