Obama, Romney Spar Over August Job Numbers

Presidential candidates focus on one of the election's key issues.
3:00 | 09/08/12

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Transcript for Obama, Romney Spar Over August Job Numbers
We're going to turn, now, to the weak new jobs report, showing that just 96,000 jobs were added in the month of august. Although the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1%, it's because nearly 400,000 people just stopped looking for work. President obama and mitt romney, furiously spinning those numbers, knowing this is the issue that will likely decide the election. "Your voice, your vote." And we'll hear from abc's reena ninan, covering the romney campaign in a moment. But first, abc's david kerley is at the white house. Good morning, david. Reporter: Good morning, bianna. Flat. Disappointing. Someone called it a dismal jobs report. And it has the president asking for more time. The president bounded on to a stage in new hampshire, less than 12 hours after accepting his nomination, trying to put the most positive spin he could on those disappointing jobs numbers. After losing around 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, business, once again, added jobs for the 30th month in a row. Reporter: True. Still, 23 million americans are unemployed. And the president acknowledges all the frustration. That's not good enough. We know it's not good enough. We need to create more jobs, faster. Reporter: And that is part of a new narrative, which the president introduced in his acceptance speech. Pleading for patience. Yes, our path is harder. But it leads to a better place. Yes, our road is longer. But we travel it together. Reporter: Selling his path, even though the jobs numbers play right into the hands of the republicans. So, mr. Obama continues to claim the republican plans are old, tired, and not the prescription for the economy. Tax cuts. Tax cuts. Gut some regulations. And oh, more tax cuts. Tax cuts, when times are good. Tax cuts when times are bad. It will cure anything, according to them. I'm reena ninan. It was a sucker-punch aimed directly where the obama campaign hurts the most. Jobs numbers. Unemployment rate. Reporter: Without hesitation, romney pouncing on the new unemployment numbers. I know how to get the private sector to create 12 million new jobs. Reporter: Mitt romney and paul ryan, convincing americans a vote for obama won't make them or their pocketbooks better off. For every person who got a job, nearly four people stop looked for a job. They gave up. We can't keep doing this. Reporter: Hoping that history might repeat itself, with presidential incumbents like ford, carter and bush in '92, failed to convince voters with similar economic woes, why the country was better off with them. Here in colorado, we're not better off under president obama. Reporter: And knowing the economy's unlikely to bounce back by november, on friday, the campaign released 15 new ads, targeting 8 states, explaining how mitt romney plans to help. The romney plan, foster innovation, and create over 200,000 new jobs. Reena and david join us live now. Why does the romney camp release so many ads now? Reporter: Focus now is on intense key battleground states. And romney is likely to make history this election cycle. Becoming the first challenger to outspend a sitting president. And, david, how worried are the administration about losing the bounced that hay had from Reporter: They're waiting for the next polls to come out after both conventions. Look for the president over the next couple of weeks, before the debates, to be out in the battleground states, asking voters to go vote early. They'd like to bank as many votes as possible. They think they have the momentum right now. We finally heard from clint eastwood after that empty chair speech. What did he say about that? Reporter: He said he came up with the idea just minutes before he went on stage. And, bianna, he said it was mission accomplished for his job at the republican national convention. Well, people are still talking about it. I guess he has a point there. Reea and david, thank you so much. And congressman paul ryan joins george stephanopoulos tomorrow on "this week." We're going to turn to ron

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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