ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — The cheering stopped on Mitt Romney's campaign plane Friday morning.
The day before, aides had whistled and clapped when the Denver control tower commended the Republican presidential nominee's debate performance. It was a rare moment of exuberance for a campaign that had fallen behind President Barack Obama in a number of polls.
The euphoria ended after the morning report that the nation's unemployment rate had dropped to 7.8 percent, its lowest level in Obama's presidency. Romney and his team sat stone-faced and quiet on the flight to Virginia's coal country, taking in the good news for the country that's bad news for their political prospects.
The former businessman has staked his candidacy on the notion that the economy needs a turnaround. So, even as Republicans elsewhere conceded progress, Romney described the positive report in negative terms.
"This is not what a real recovery looks like," he declared in a written statement less than an hour after the job growth numbers came out.
Campaigning outside an Abingdon equipment company, Romney dismissed the report as evidence that millions of unemployed Americans had simply given up.
"The unemployment rate, as you know, this year has come down very, very slowly, but it's come down nonetheless," Romney told more than 3,000 supporters in this small western Virginia community. "The reason it's come down this year is primarily due to the fact that more and more people have just stopped looking for work."
Last month's improvement is attributed to more people finding work, according to data released by the Labor Department.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. The Labor Department says employers added 114,000 jobs in September. The economy also created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than first estimated.
Wages rose in September and more people started looking for work.
The report gave Obama fresh evidence to argue that his economic policies are working. It also gave the president an opportunity to suggest that Romney is rooting against the economic recovery.
"Today's news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points," Obama said at a rally in northern Virginia. "It's a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now."
Romney aides have long worried that circumstances out of their control — particularly an economic surge close to the election — could undermine Romney's candidacy. One more monthly unemployment report is due before Election Day, so Friday's numbers could leave a lasting impact on Americans who are already casting ballots in states that allow early voting.
Romney's campaign has adapted in recent months as noneconomic issues surfaced. In particular, the former Massachusetts governor has broadened his message to include more focus on foreign policy and the military. He's set to deliver a foreign policy speech on Monday.
But the longtime businessman launched his campaign on the premise that only he can repair the American economy. His central message in countless rallies, campaign ads and interviews is that Obama isn't doing enough to create jobs.
"These are tough times in this community," Romney said in Abingdon after meeting with coal miners who have been laid off. The crowd cheered as he added, "I'd take America in a very different direction."
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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