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Romney attacks Obama on convention speech and jobs numbers

Evan Vucci / AP

Republican presidential candidate greets supporters Friday during a campaign rally in Orange City, Iowa.

ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- In his first rally since President Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president, Mitt Romney on Friday called Obama's speech in Charlotte, N.C., "extraordinarily disappointing" and castigated Obama for not proposing how to solve joblessness.

"I read that this morning, you perhaps got the chance to do that," Romney said of the speech, suggesting he didn't watch the event live on television Thursday night.

"But if you did, perhaps like me you found it extraordinary disappointing -- surprisingly disappointing," Romney continued, adding later, "I was surprised by his address because I expected him to confront the major challenges of the last four years, which is an economy which has not produced the jobs that the American people need."


Romney made the remarks to several thousand people inside a basketball gym at Northwestern College, a small Christian liberal arts school here in conservative northwest Iowa.

Campaign officials said 2,600 people were inside the gym, and another 800 to 1000 people were inside an overflow room, which Romney visited briefly afterward.

The event came on the same day the Labor Department released a sour jobs report showing employers added 96,000 jobs in August and that more than 350,000 people had stopped looking for work.

"It’s just simply unimaginable," Romney said of the numbers.  "The president said that by this time we’d be at 5.4 percent unemployment. 5.4 percent. Instead, we’re at about 8 percent."

Romney said the difference accounts for 9 million people who could be working.

Earlier Friday, Romney called the report a "hangover" after the Democrats' "party" in Charlotte.

"This is a tough time for the middle class of America," Romney told reporters on a tarmac in Sioux City.  "There's almost nothing the president has done in the past three and a half, four years that gives the American people confidence that he knows what he's doing when it comes to jobs and the economy."

Before Romney took the stage here in Orange City, campaign aides tossed to the crowd blue foam gloves designed to look like baseball mitts. 

A scoreboard inside the gym had been programmed to list one team as "Mitt" and the other "Romney."  Scores were listed as 11 and 6, a reference to the Nov. 6 general election.

Romney was introduced by two Iowa Republicans, Gov. Terry Branstad and Rep. Steve King, who represents the 5th district here and is running for re-election.

Making an apparent pitch for Romney's conservative credentials, King told the crowd that Obama "undermines" the values of northwest Iowa "day after day after day."

"Don't doubt this man's faith. Don't doubt his conviction," King said of Romney.  "Do not doubt his patriotism or his faith, and his love for Jesus Christ, our savior."

Romney later urged the crowd inside the overflow room to re-elect King.

"I wanna make sure he's in Washington when I get there so we can do the things we're promising doing," Romney said.