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mitt romney in pittsburgh Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign stop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Friday, May 4, 2012. (Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Election 2012: Romney Hammers Obama on Economy

Republican frontrunner courts voters in Pennsylvania

By Matthew Moore | May 7 , 2012

On Friday, presumptive (likely) Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited the Sauereisen factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to rally his western Pennsylvania fans and supporters.

But Romney was also here to talk about the economy — especially President Barack Obama's handling of it.

On the day of his visit, the government released employment numbers for the month of April. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent in March. But the economy added only 115,000 new jobs in April.

"The reason the rate came down was because about 340,000 dropped out of the workforce," Romney said. "So many became discouraged they stopped looking for work. And if they stopped looking for work, the statisticians say, 'Oh, the unemployment is lower now because not so many people want to work.'"

According to government statistics, nearly 342,000 people dropped out of the workforce in April.

"This is a sad time in America when people who want to work can't find jobs," Romney added.

For its part, the Obama administration painted a better picture of the economy after the employment numbers were released.

"I would characterize our growth as durable and steady," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement. "For 26 straight months, we have added private sector jobs. The national unemployment rate has fallen a full point in the last eight months. Layoffs are continuing to come down and are now back to 2006 levels."

The nearly 200 people who turned out for Romney's speech seemed to line up behind Romney's opinion of the employment numbers. Many of them left energized and they praised the Republican for his ideas and policy positions.

"I think Mitt Romney can offer us a good sense of business and fairness," said Lenore Tixon.

"Mitt Romney was not my first choice for Republican nominee. I started with Michele Bachmann, then Herman Cain, then Rick Santorum, and now Mitt Romney, because out of the 3 left I think he is the leader," proclaimed Daniel Baker.

But not everyone at the event supported Romney.

Union workers gathered outside the Sauereisen factory to protest Romney and his positions. They were joined by some local Democratic leaders.

"He's not a job creator, he's a job eliminator," said Pittsburgh city councilman John DeFazio.

At the event itself, veteran and prisoner of war (P.O.W.) Billy Hill stood up and proclaimed his thoughts on Romney and asked Romney directly about lowering gas prices and about building homes and hospitals for war veterans.

Many people booed and shouted at the man to sit down. Romney asked if he could go on with his speech, but then let Hill finish his statement before continuing.

The campaign stop was Romney's third time in Pittsburgh in less than a month. Pennsylvania is considered a swing state in the 2012 election, and Romney has come to the city — and the state — to try and appeal to undecided voters.

ELECTION 2012

Scholastic News Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail! Keep up with latest election news on the Election 2012 website.

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