President Obama vs. Mitt Romney: Highs and lows of the 2012 campaign

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23 2012 6:33 a.m. MDT

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Associated Press
On Oct. 5, the president was handed a gift in the form of better jobs numbers as the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September—its lowest level since 2009.

Part of the growth came from a surge in the number of people taking part-time jobs because full-time jobs weren't available, an analysis of the numbers showed. Either way, the president was quick to bring up the numbers on the campaign trail, saying that U.S. businesses had added 5.2 million new jobs over the past 2 ½ years.

The jobless rate drop delivered a jolt to the presidential campaign, a New York Times article suggested, while threatening the central argument of Romney's candidacy.

Jack Welch, a former CEO of General Electric, criticized the numbers after they were released, saying "these Chicago guys will do anything . . . can't debate so change numbers." He wrote at The Wall Street Journal that he was raising a question in that tweet, not making an accusation. He argued, though, that the 7.8 percent figure was "downright implausible" because the economy would need to be growing at "breakneck speed" for the unemployment numbers to drop from 8.3 to 7.8 percent in the course of two months.

At the annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner and roast, Obama joked about the numbers, saying, "Of course, the economy's on everybody's mind. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since I took office . . . I don't have a joke here—I just thought it'd be useful to remind everybody."

>> President Barack Obama speaks at the Archdiocese of New York's 67th Annual Alfred. E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
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