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FACTBOX: Candidates react to gloomy jobs report

(Reuters) - The slowing U.S. economy took center stage as an election-year campaign issue on Friday after the Labor Department reported that U.S. employers cut jobs in February at the steepest rate in nearly five years. Here is what the U.S. presidential candidates are saying:

REPUBLICAN SEN. JOHN MCCAIN

“Today’s unemployment figures are not good. They’re not terrible, but they’re not good. ... Our economy is not in the condition we want it to be.”

He told a town hall meeting in Atlanta that lowering taxes and reducing regulation would help stimulate growth.

DEMOCRATIC SEN. HILLARY CLINTON

“While the stimulus measures in the pipeline are important, it’s going to take more than tax rebates to avoid a deep economic downturn. We need to immediately extend unemployment insurance and invest at least $5 billion right now in green-collar jobs to help avert a recession. And we need a comprehensive solution to the housing crisis, not more half-measures and hand-wringing.”

DEMOCRATIC SEN. BARACK OBAMA

“The second straight month in a row of job loss is the biggest drop in five years and brings more bad news for an economy showing signs of recession and more heartache and struggle for the Americans I meet every day who are looking for work, can’t pay the bills, or are worried that their job will be the next to disappear ... . As president, I’ll bring both parties together and take on the money and influence of Washington so we can restore balance to our economy, and I’ll create millions of new jobs with good wages by investing in infrastructure and renewable energy.”

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason)

Reporting by Donna Smith; Editing by Xavier Briand

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