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Today's jobs numbers gave the presidential candidates something new to talk about, or at least new details for an old story. President Obama says the better-than-expected number of new jobs is evidence that his policies are working, slowly but surely. And Mitt Romney argued that the uptick in the unemployment rate to 7.9 percent shows it's time to change course.
We have more from both men. First, NPR's Scott Horsley who's traveling with the president.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: President Obama touted the new jobs numbers while stumping for votes in some of the smaller cities of West Central Ohio. At the Franklin County Fairgrounds, he cheered the 32nd month in a row that private employers added to their payrolls.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today our businesses have created nearly five and half million new jobs.
HORSLEY: As he does every month, Mr. Obama said there's more work to do. Unemployment inched up in October to 7.9 percent, but only because hundreds of thousands of newly optimistic workers entered or reentered the labor force.
In Ohio, the economy is doing better than average, with an unemployment rate of just 7 percent. Mr. Obama credits much of Ohio's economic strength to the rebound in auto industry and the government rescue of Chrysler and General Motors that he engineered.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
OBAMA: That paid off. It paid off in Lordstown, where GM is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in their auto plant. It paid off in Toledo, where Chrysler is adding more than a thousand new jobs on a second shift, not in China, right here in Ohio. Right here in the United States of America.
HORSLEY: Mitt Romney has tried to undercut the president's auto argument with a campaign ad that's been widely discredited. It suggests Chrysler's new owners plan to relocate Jeep manufacturing jobs to China. Jeep is expanding in China but not at the expense of American jobs, a point that Mr. Obama drove home today.
OBAMA: The car companies themselves had told Governor Romney to knock it off.
OBAMA: GM said we think creating jobs in the United States should be a source of bipartisan pride and I couldn't agree more.
HORSLEY: The Obama campaign has described the misleading Jeep commercials as a sign that Romney's campaign is growing desperate.
OBAMA: You don't scare hard working Americans just to scare up some votes. That's not what being president is all about.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: No.
OBAMA: That's not leadership.
HORSLEY: As he makes his closing argument to voters here and around the country, the president is using the Jeep ad to raise a broader question about his Republican challenger's character, as well as his economic policies. In Franklin County today, Mr. Obama urged voters to think about the issue of trust.
Scott Horsley, NPR News, traveling with the president. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.