11:45 am Jul. 6, 2012
Mitt Romney took a few minutes out of his New Hampshire vacation this morning to stop by a local hardware store and denounce the latest jobs report, which showed the economy added just 80,000 jobs in June, lower even than the modest estimates of many economists.
Romney called it "another kick in the gut to middle class families" at a press conference inside Bradley Hardware in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
Romney has made it something of a ritual to hastily assemble the press after the Labor Department releases its statistics, and for the last few months, the disappointing numbers have given him a regular opening to assail the president.
The new numbers allow Romney to get back on his preferred message of criticizing Obama's performance on the economy, after a week that was mostly filled with talk about health care, including Romney's quick about-face on whether the president's plan constituted a tax or a penalty. (His top adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Romney considered it a penalty, but Romney hastily arranged a television interview two days later to declare it a tax, a semantic shift that brings him in line with most other Republican candidates.)
The report also comes as a growing number of prominent conservatives, including Rupert Murdoch and the influential editorial board at his Wall Street Journal, have begun to publicly criticize Romney for a lack of specificity in his policy prescriptions.
Romney pointed to a few specifics in his 59-point plan, including opening up new lands for drilling and lowering certain tax rates, but did nothing to suggest he would be rolling out a more precise agenda in the near future.
In response to a question about his own health care plan, Romney reiterated that he had opposed a federal plan since he first signed his Massachusetts overhaul, and claimed three-quarters of small businesses are reluctant to hire because of the president's plan.
Asked by a reporter if his New Hampshire trip weakened his criticism of Obama's golfing, Romney came out in favor of vacations.
"I'm delighted to be able to take a vacation with my family," he said, adding, "I hope more Americans are able to take vacations."