"This economy took a big hit," Barack Obama said Friday in Ohio, a pivotal 2012 state. "You know, it's just like if you had a bad illness, if you got hit by a truck, it's going to take a while for you to mend. And that's what's happened to our economy. It's taking a while to mend."
Is progress enough to convince people that Obama deserves a second term in 2012?
If so, Barack Obama can't afford many setbacks like the new jobs report. Employers in May added just 54,000 jobs, the fewest in eight months. Almost 14 million people are jobless. Analysts suggested the economy could improve this year, but the recovery could be weak for months.
"There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery," Barack Obama said.
The election won't be just a referendum on Obama and the unemployment rate. It also will offer a choice between his economic ideas and his opponent's. Still, just as change worked for him last time, it can be used against Barack Obama in 2012.
Even 8 percent unemployment, a goal once promoted by the administration, is hard to see now.
A finally forming field of Republican presidential competitors is maneuvering into the space for the public's attention with this message: Barack Obama has failed.
2012 Election Day 2012 is 17 months away, and Barack Obama's campaign knows incremental job growth won't do. The unemployment rate is 9.1 percent. If it stays anywhere near there, Barack Obama will face re-election with a higher jobless rate than any other post-war president.