Phil English has served as northwestern Pennsylvania’s congressman, and he’ll be a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
He took on another role Friday in Erie: Critic of President Barack Obama’s jobs record and a supporter of Mitt Romney’s.
English, 56, a seven-term congressman from Erie representing the 3rd District until his defeat in 2008, addressed a luncheon gathering of about 75 Romney supporters at the Bel-Aire Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 2800 W. Eighth St.
He also spoke to the media in a series of interviews before the event, using the latest disappointing national jobs report to say the time is right for a change in the White House.
Employers put 80,000 people on their payrolls in June, below projections of at least 100,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.2 percent, and English said the only reason it’s not higher is that some people dropped out of the workforce.
The figures marked the third consecutive month of weak hiring.
Obama, who completed a campaign tour of southwestern Pennsylvania and Ohio on Friday, said during a stop in Poland, Ohio, that businesses created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs.
“That’s a step in the right direction,” he told the crowd, while acknowledging more needs to be done to get people back to work.
But in Erie, English said there is “no one that can put a positive spin” on the unemployment news.
English said the nation has seen 41 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent. The nation is “locked into slow economic growth,” and the Obama administration has “failed to get the economy back on track,” he said.
Asked about the deep recession that Obama inherited when taking office, English said, “No one has ever made the argument that after four years, if things got worse, that the person elected president would be entitled to another term.”
He added: “The policies are not working, and we saw fresh evidence of that (Friday).”
English, co-chairman of the Government Relations Group for the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arent Fox, said that Romney is a job creator with a pro-growth, pro-jobs message to build the economy, detailed in a 59-point platform.
He also said that northwestern Pennsylvania is important for Romney’s success in the state. “If we can make it close and competitive in Erie County, we can win in Pennsylvania,” English told the crowd.