BOSTON—Bleak unemployment numbers released Wednesday reportedly sent a wave of applause cascading through the headquarters of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, with staffers rejoicing at news that millions of jobless Americans will continue to face crippling debt and emotional hardship as the election draws near.
Calling the Labor Department report a "major boost" for the campaign, sources confirmed the grim economic data and deeply troubling descent of unemployed Americans into utter financial ruin spurred a round of high-fives among Romney aides, followed by repeated hoots, hollers, and whistles.
"Yes!" said senior strategist Stuart Stevens, slamming his hand triumphantly on his desk while scanning recent household survey figures that confirm recovery of the labor markets remains discouragingly slow. "Are you guys seeing this? Someone go make copies. I want everyone to see this right now."
"Has anyone told Mitt yet?" he added as news spread from cubicle to cubicle along with fresh bursts of cheering. "Tell [senior adviser] Beth [Meyers] to put him on speakerphone. He's going to totally flip out."
According to sources, campaign workers slapped each other on the back in giddy delight as Stevens explained that as far as voters and the media were concerned, the latest unemployment figures would firmly supersede any earlier data suggesting the economy had experienced modest growth.
Stevens then added, with an audible chuckle, that the report's grim statistical portrait of a nation plagued by planned layoffs, plummeting consumer confidence levels, and a stubbornly high number of jobless claims "should hopefully deal a pretty good blow" to President Barack Obama's job-creation platform.
"We got [Romney's] voicemail," Meyers shouted while holding a cell phone over her head. "On the count of three, I want everyone to make as much noise as they can."
"One…two…three—wooooooo!" she added.
Sources noted that Romney headquarters had not experienced such a palpable sense of optimism since employers added a disappointing 69,000 jobs in May, a "pleasantly surprising" dip in the labor market that made staffers realize they "definitely have a shot at winning this thing."
"I believe a celebration is in order," director of speechwriting Lindsay Hayes reportedly told a group of ecstatic college interns before exchanging broad, delighted smiles with press secretary Andrea Saul. "Drinks after work. Be there or be square, folks."
The campaign called the timing of Wednesday's report ideal, as it followed a string of "pretty bad setbacks," including last winter's three months of solid economic growth, which raised morale for millions of struggling workers; Congress' decision in February to extend long-term jobless benefits; and recent reports that new houses are being built at the fastest rate in years.
"They said the road would be tough, but Mitt always said things would turn around, and he was right," an emotional Stevens told colleagues, holding up the report on the nation's moribund economy. "This just goes to show that great things can happen if you keep the faith."
When finally reached by phone, Romney told campaign workers that while the dreary news for the nation's job market was certainly a victory, there was still a lot more work to be done.
"Great work, guys," the candidate said between fundraising events. "Let's build on this."