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With Election Over, Jobs Report Gets Less Scrutiny

By JULIE PACE

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Reaction to the monthly jobs numbers isn't what it used to be.

The first unemployment report since President Barack Obama's re-election barely got a mention from the White House and Republicans after Friday's release. Gone was the frenzy of political posturing that followed every release throughout the presidential campaign.

Obama would try to cast each economic snapshot as a sign of slow but steady recovery, while Republican rival Mitt Romney bemoaned the unemployment rate as a sign that the country needed fresh economic leadership.

But there's a new postelection, political reality in Washington: Obama is sticking around for four more years no matter what the unemployment rate is.

Economic drivers are also behind Washington's muted response Friday. While economists project a continued drop in unemployment and an uptick in economic growth through next year, that could all be at risk if Obama and congressional Republicans can't reach a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff"â¿¿ a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect at the end of the year.

Perhaps with that in mind, the White House made no plans for the president to comment publicly on the news that the unemployment rate fell to a nearly four-year low of 7.7 percent in November. Instead, Obama spent the day in private meetings with his advisers â¿¿ including some on the fiscal cliff. He left his administration's response to top White House economist Alan Krueger.

"Today's employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression," Krueger said in a statement.

Vice President Joe Biden also chimed in briefly during an event Friday afternoon, saying: "I think we have turned the corner."

Even before his re-election campaign kicked into high-gear, Obama made a point of addressing the jobless rate most months, regardless of whether it had climbed or dropped.

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