WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday his likely Republican opponent Mitt Romney’s argument that women had been disproportionately affected by job losses under Obama’s administration was “bogus.”
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and probable Republican presidential nominee, has cited statistics showing that 92 percent of the people who lost their jobs under Obama’s watch were women.
In an interview with Telemundo television, the president, a Democrat, said that was not true.
“Everybody who’s looked at this claim knows it’s bogus,” Obama said, according to a transcript.
“What he doesn’t mention obviously is that all these job losses, both men and women, took place as a consequence of the worst financial crisis and the worst economic crisis that we’ve seen since the Great Depression,” he continued.
“They’re a direct result of the policies he wants to go back to, and I think the American people understand that,” Obama said.
Fact-checking website Politifact branded the 92 percent claim “mostly false.” But the Romney camp stuck by the figure, which it said was based on women accounting for 683,000 of the 740,000 nonfarm payroll jobs lost from January 2009 to March 2012.
Obama and Romney are increasingly vying for the support of women voters, who polls show are swinging to Obama, partly because of a divisive debate during the Republican primary race about contraception rights.
But a comment by a Democratic strategist this week that seemed to criticize Romney’s wife for being a stay-at-home mom may have chipped away at the gains Obama has made with women.
Obama, who said spouses should be off limits for criticism, noted that the strategist, Hilary Rosen, had apologized, and said there were more important differences between himself and Romney worth debating.
“We’ve got some big issues to debate in this country about tax policy, about how we’re going to grow the economy, how we’re going to make sure everybody in America gets a fair shot,” he said. “There are more than enough differences between me and Mr. Romney that should be our focus.”
Obama, who is spending the weekend in Colombia at a summit with Latin American leaders, reaffirmed his commitment to immigration reform and accused Republicans of being hypocritical in their approach to Latino issues.
Hispanic voters may be critical swing votes in states such as Colorado and Nevada that could determine who wins the November 6 presidential election.
Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney