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Obama touts bright spot in disappointing jobs report

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama greets supporters Friday during a campaign event at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H.

President Barack Obama traveled to Portsmouth, N.H., looking to maintain the momentum from his Thursday night Democratic convention address despite a disappointing jobs report released Friday morning.

Trying not to put too much of a damper on the event – his first since his convention prime-time acceptance speech -- the president sought to put a positive light on the jobs report, which showed a lower-than-expected 96,000 jobs created in August and an 8.1 percent unemployment rate.

“Today we learned that after losing around 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, business once again added jobs for the 30th month in a row,” he told the 6,000-person crowd at the Strawbery Banke Museum.

“But that's not good enough,” he continued. “We need to create more jobs faster. We need to fill the hole left by this recession faster.  We need to come out of this crisis stronger than when we went in.”

He spent much of the rest of his speech hitting similar notes as he did Thursday night – explaining in broad, aspirational language his goals for a second term, including adding a million jobs over the next four years; cutting oil imports in half by 2020; improving access to education and overhauling the tax code.

He also, as he did Thursday night, ridiculed Republicans for what he said was a plan that relied solely on tax cuts for the wealthy intended to encourage economic growth among lower-income people.

“All they've got to offer is the same prescriptions that they've had for the last 30 years:  tax cuts, tax cuts, gut some regulations -- oh, and more tax cuts,” he said. “Tax cuts when times are good, tax cuts when times are bad, tax cuts to help you lose a few extra pounds -- (laughter) –  tax cuts to improve your love life -- I -- it'll cure anything, according to them,” he joked.

It was a similar line to one he used Thursday night, when he also characterized Republicans as depending on tax cuts as a cure-all.

“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call me in the morning,” he joked at the Time Warner Cable arena in Charlotte, N.C., at the convention.

On the flight from Charlotte to Portsmouth, White House senior adviser David Plouffe downplayed any sort of positive effect the convention would have on the president’s standing in the polls.

“We come out of the convention with momentum. That doesn't mean the race is going to change significantly. But we think that we come out of here with some momentum in terms of putting together the electoral picture,” he told reporters traveling on the president’s plane.

Obama went on to Iowa City, Iowa, where he was to address students at the University of Iowa. He will then travel to St. Petersburg, Fla., where on Saturday he will kick off a two-day bus tour.