WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- A top surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney downplayed a dip in the nation's jobless rate on "Fox News Sunday."
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte told host Chris Wallace a majority of the jobs created were part time and insufficient to warrant claims by Democrats that President Barack Obama's economic policies are working.
"If the number of people who were working or participating in the workforce were the same as when the president came into office the unemployment rate would really be 11 percent," Ayotte said. "So, I don't think there's any cause to celebrate, here and I think if you told the American people four years ago, that the unemployment rate is going to be 7.8 percent, at this point, during the president's term, I don't think anyone should be satisfied or happy with that."
A top Obama surrogate, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, defended the president's handling of the economy, pointing to a 44th consecutive month of job growth, though he noted more remains to be done to help Americans struggling through a sluggish recovery.
"I don't think any of us should be happy," O'Malley said. "We want to return to full employment. But what we've seen now is 31 months in a row, consecutive months in a row, of private sector job gains. So, it is far better to be gaining jobs than losing 800,000 a month, as we were when George Bush was in office."
Ayotte, attempting to capitalize on the momentum Romney has gained since his strong showing in the campaign's first debate Wednesday, said Obama was forced to run away from many of his signature accomplishments because they have proven unpopular.
"So, they had full charge of the first two years and the policies that this president put into place, actually made it worse," she said. "Including the fact that Obamacare is actually -- you ask small employers, it is causing them not to hire because of rising health and gas prices doubled. The middle class is buried under this administration."