Mitt Romney: Rise in jobless rate 'devastating news'
"Probably the most significant thing we can do in the near term is to get a new president that understands what it takes to get the economy going," Romney said during an interview on CNBC. "These numbers are devastating."
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said he opposes any new action by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy. He called for a new emphasis on energy development, promised to "kill" Obama's health care law and said he would reduce taxes and government spending.
"I think the right course is to have steadiness from the Fed, to maintain an effort to have a strong currency and a predicable currency," Romney said. "And the right course is to get the government, the president, focused on the issue people really want to see him focus on, which is jobs."
Friday's employment numbers show that U.S. employers added 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year. The unemployment rate also rose slightly to 8.2 percent, up from 8.1 percent in April.
The report, coming five months before the Nov. 6 election, became instant political fodder.
In other topics, Romney sought to minimize the effect economic strains in Europe and China would have on the U.S., and defended his work as head of a private equity firm. Obama and other Democrats have criticized Romney's private-sector record.
"China is obviously growing very quickly, but is fragile in many respects," he said. "Their economy could see a reversal at any point. I hope that doesn't happen. But it's certainly not as stable and predictable as you would hope. Obviously what's happening in Europe is greatly concerning."
He said the economic strains were "having a dampening effect" but said "the real question is what can we do? We can't change what's going to happen in Europe. We can't change what's going to happen in China."
Romney also defended his record at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded, saying his work there was not focused on creating jobs. Romney said 80 percent of the businesses Bain invested in grew during the company's ownership, while 5 percent went bankrupt.
"I understand the president and his team will focus all their energy on the 5 percent. I'd like to focus on my energy on the 80 percent," Romney said. "I think Bain Capital has a good and solid record. I was happy to see President Clinton made a similar statement today and called my record superb."
"The man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold," Clinton said on CNN.