US & Canada

Obama and Romney begin campaign run-in amid jobs row

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Media captionObama: "We need to create more jobs, faster"

US President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney have hit the campaign trial in swing states in the wake of a disappointing jobs report.

Both men appeared in Iowa and New Hampshire on the first full day after the end of the party conventions.

Mr Obama conceded that the unemployment figures were "not good enough", while Mr Romney said the president's policies had failed.

The two men are neck-and-neck in the polls two months from election day.

Mr Obama's hope for a poll boost after the three-day Democratic convention, which finishing in North Carolina on Thursday night, faced a challenge from the latest set of weak economic data.

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Media captionRomney: "Americans don't want four more years of the last four years"

Friday's report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 96,000 jobs were added in August, fewer than expected. The unemployment rate fell from 8.3% to 8.1%, but only because more people gave up looking for work.

'He tried'

The two men spent Friday campaigning in the swing states of Iowa and New Hampshire, with the president in New Hampshire in the morning before holding an evening rally in Iowa.

Mr Romney did the reverse, making his first appearance of the day in Sioux City, Iowa, before ending his Friday in Nashua, New Hampshire.

"That's not good enough," Mr Obama told a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, talking about the jobs report. "We know it's not good enough.

"We need to create more jobs faster. We need to fill the hole left by this recession faster."

Mr Romney kept up his campaign's focus on lambasting the president's handling of the economy, pouncing on the jobs figures

Race to the White House

"The president said that by this time we would be at 5.4% unemployment. Instead we're at about 8%. Had his policies worked as he thought they would there would be nine million more Americans working," Mr Romney said at a campaign rally in Iowa.

"This president tried but he didn't understand what it takes to make our economy work. I do."

On financial news broadcaster CNBC, Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan said: "This is not even close to what a recovery looks like."

Mr Obama is campaigning in the key swing states of New Hampshire and Iowa on Friday, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife.

The Romney campaign released a glut of 15 anti-Obama ads on Friday as part of a reported $4.5m (£3m) broadcast campaign in eight swing states.

The ads - subtly tailored for each broadcast market - are scheduled to run in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

Correspondents say the selection of eight states gives a clear signal about where the Romney campaign will direct its energy during the two-month campaign.

Eastwood's chair explanation

In Mr Obama's Thursday night convention speech he offered a string of critiques of Republican policies, while emphasising there was no quick fix for the nation's problems.

"When you pick up that ballot to vote - you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation," he said.

"Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington: on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace - decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children's lives for decades to come."

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Media captionA North Carolina town struggles to feel passion for the president after devastating job losses

Also on Friday, Clint Eastwood broke his silence about what inspired his bizarre speech at the Republican convention last week, when he spoke to an empty chair that he said represented Mr Obama.

He told his California hometown newspaper the Carmel Pine Cone that he noticed the seat while waiting backstage to speak.

"When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea," he said. "I'll just put the stool out there and I'll talk to Mr Obama and ask him why he didn't keep all of the promises he made to everybody."

Eastwood said the Romney campaign had asked for details of what he was going to say, but he told them: "You can't do that with me, because I don't know what I'm going to say."

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