Seldom are differences between the candidates so stark as on jobs and the economy. President Barack Obama sees a glass half full and rising, Republican rival Mitt Romney describes one that's half-empty and falling.
It's not surprising. Sustained weakness in the economy remains Obama's biggest vulnerability heading into fall's presidential election. Both campaigns know it. And it colors how they spin economic data.
Obama and Romney clashed sharply Friday over new unemployment numbers.
Three months shy of Election Day, the latest numbers showed monthly job creation was higher than expected but unemployment rose, too. That gave each candidate political room to see only what he wanted, and to stick with the fundamental economic argument that he thinks will win the White House.
At the White House, Obama surrounding himself with some of those families, playing up 29 straight months that private employers have added jobs.
"Those are our neighbors and families finding work," Obama said. "But, let's acknowledge, we've still got too many folks out there who are looking for work."
He pitched his plan to extend tax breaks for all but the wealthy.
Romney focused on the overall increase in the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in June, calling it "another hammer blow to the struggling middle class families in America," and evidence of Obama's "extraordinary record of failure."
Economists generally welcomed the report as better than expected. And while the increase was barely enough to match working-age population growth, it was seen as another sign the economy wasn't slipping back into recession.
Wall Street liked it, too. Stocks soared.
Part of the disparity between the unemployment rate and monthly job creation figures is because the first comes from a Labor Department survey of households while the second from a survey of businesses. The two numbers don't always move in tandem.
Obama spent the day at the White House. Romney spoke from North Las Vegas during a campaign swing to Nevada.
Romney is set to campaign in Indiana on Saturday, before spending two days in private at his New Hampshire summer home. He is expected to campaign in Iowa and Ohio in the following days before starting a bus tour targeting Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
Obama, who celebrates his 51st birthday on Saturday, will spend much of the weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md. He will raise money in Connecticut on Monday before launching into a stretch of campaign travel in Colorado and Iowa, with fundraising in his hometown of Chicago tucked in between.