The latest Labor Department report showing a continuing decline in job growth in America shows President Obama has run out of ideas, Mitt Romney told Fox News Channel in an exclusive interview a day after the president wrapped up the Democratic National Convention.
The GOP presidential nominee's comments came hours after the Department of Labor report showed only 96,000 new jobs created in August — and hundreds of thousands have given up looking for jobs altogether.
"It's another disappointing monthly figure," Romney told Fox News Channel's Bret Baier in Sioux City, Iowa, a day after President Obama wrapped up the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. "If you look over the last several quarters, last several years, you see the continued pattern which is that we are not creating the jobs we need to create to put Americans back to work. For every net new job created, about four people dropped out of the workforce. So we're going in the wrong direction."
The former Massachusetts governor said the Federal Reserve has run out of ammo, and said business-friendly policies from the White House are the best hope for turning around the moribund economy.
Transcript of Fox News Channel's interview with Mitt Romney
President blaming past recession for weak jobs report
US economy adds 96K jobs, unemployment rate falls to 8.1 percent
Obama Re-Clarifies on ‘You Didn’t Build That,’ While Romney Attacks Jobs Report
96K Jobs Created in August
Jobs Report: 368,000 Americans Gave Up Hope
Labor Participation Rate Falls to 63.5%, 30-Year Low
Which Sectors on Wall Street Are Rooting for Obama?
"I don't think that there's any action that [the Federal Reserve is] going to take that will have an immediate impact on the economy," Romney said. "And frankly I think they have shot a lot of their monetary bullets and those bullets are not able to strike at a target that makes a real difference for the American worker today.
"What we need is to have policies coming from Washington that are fiscally sound and get America back on track," he added
Romney, who said he didn't watch President Obama's speech Thursday night but read it on Friday, said he was nonetheless displeased.
"I was disappointed with the speech," Romney said. "Of course, it has been a disappointing four years. There was nothing in the speech that gives confidence that the President knows what he is doing when it comes to jobs and the economy. As a matter of fact, he hardly even mentioned jobs or the economy.
"And for that matter, there is nothing that he has really done in the last three-and-a-half, four years that gives confidence he knows what he is doing with regards to jobs and the economy anyway."
While the unemployment rate did inch downward in August, economists say it was only because so many out-of-work Americans have become so discouraged they've taken themselves out of the workforce. All told, the proportion of the adult population that's either working or looking for work fell to 63.5 percent. That's the lowest level in 31 years for the so-called labor force participation rate. The rate peaked at 67.3 percent in early 2000.
"This has been a very disappointing time for the American people," said Romney, who believes his private sector experience gives him an edge over Obama in the issue Americans care most about — the economy.
Romney said Obama's speech was a reminder of the promises he made in 2008 that have not come to fruition.
"The speech had a few new promises, Romney said. "Old ones, he didn't report on — [he's been] unable to fulfill them. What we saw and what we read was a President making new promises and offering no new plan, no new ideas."
Romney bristled at claims by Democrats that his own speech in Tampa was short on specifics, noting he laid out five steps he said will lead to increases in jobs and income for Americans. He also rejected former President Clinton's claim in Charlotte that "no president" could have turned around the economic mess Obama inherited when he was sworn in in 2009, saying he "could have done a heck of a lot better job."
"I wasn't elected so that's kind of moot," he continued. "But the point is when this President was elected, he and his team announced to the American people that by now, we'd have 5.4 percent unemployment."
Romney said the upcoming debates will offer a chance to draw a sharp contrast between his vision and Obama's, as well as to clarify Democratic charges that he wanted American automakers to go bankrupt.
"There will be a chance at debates to talk about truth and fiction," Romney said, adding that the structured bankruptcy he proposed for General Motors would have allowed the company to survive without costing American taxpayers billions in bailout money.
He also rejected claims that by not mentioning U.S. troops in his acceptance speech in Tampa he showed a disregard for service members. He said he opposes sequestration, the automatic defense cuts that will kick in Jan. 1 if lawmakers and the White House can't agree on a a deficit-cutting strategy.
"When you give a speech, you don't give a laundry list," Romney said. "You talk about the things that you think are important. And I described in my speech my commitment to a strong military, unlike the President's decision to cut our military."
With just 60 days to go, Romney said the choice will be clear for voters.
"I think people will make up their mind," Romney said. "I cant' tell you when everyone will settle down - the day before or day of election. It's a horse race [between] two candidates who would take country in different directions.
"If they like the direction they have seen, if they think we are headed in right direction, he may be their guy," Romney said. "If they don't think they are better off, they will support me."
Later Friday, at a campaign rally in Orange City, Iowa, Romney laid out a five-point plan to create 12 million new jobs if elected, including taking “full advantage” of the nation’s energy resources to become independent by 2020 and not to cater to small businesses. He also said massive federal spending will end if he assumes the White House.
“It will stop if I’m president of the United States,” Romney told supporters.