Mitt Romney seems to think his strongest issue in a general-election race against President Obama is jobs. I’d argue he has that backwards.

In an interview with TIME Magazine’s Mark Halperin, Romney said, “I know that the Democrats will try and make this a campaign about Bain Capital…. 25 million people are out of work because of Barack Obama. And so I’ll compare my experience in the private sector where, net-net, we created over 100,000 jobs.”

“I’ll compare that record with his record, where he has not created any new jobs.”

This detachment from reality fascinates me, so let’s unwrap the argument.

First, the confused former governor believes 25 million people are out of work “because of Barack Obama.” If Romney can explain why Obama is to blame for a recession that began in 2007, I’d love to hear it. For that matter, the economy lost 3.6 million jobs in 2008 — the year before the president took office. How exactly is Obama responsible for that, too?

Second, Romney now claims to have created “over 100,000 jobs” at his vulture-capitalist firm. Romney also appears to have made this number up out of whole cloth. Indeed, two weeks ago, when Romney’s Super PAC ran an ad claiming he “helped create thousands of jobs” as CEO at Bain, Super PAC officials were asked to back that up with evidence. They refused.

Third, it’s remarkable that Romney is only willing to compare his “experience in the private sector.” What about when Romney was willing to put his experience to work in the public sector, during his one term as governor of Massachusetts? Romney doesn’t want to talk about it for a reason — his state’s record on job creation was “one of the worst in the country,” ranking 47th out of 50 states in job growth. It’s one of the reasons Romney left office after one term deeply unpopular, and why his former constituents don’t want him near the White House.

And fourth, Obama “has not created any new jobs”? The ease with which Romney lies continues to be disconcerting.

With one month remaining this year, the U.S. private sector has now added 1.67 million jobs in 2011, well ahead of last year’s private-sector total of 1.2 million, and the best year for businesses since 2006. Since March 2010, American businesses have created 2.9 million jobs.

I’d encourage Romney to consider this chart showing private-sector job growth by month since the Great Recession began…

…and this chart showing private-sector job growth by year over the last two decades (and 2011 isn’t over yet).

Reporters really need to brush up on this stuff. When Romney lies to their face — which seems to happen just about every day — they should be able to push back with reality.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.