Seminole (Florida): Republican challenger Mitt Romney faulted President Barack Obama for the country`s weak jobs outlook and looming defence cuts as he tried to blunt any momentum the incumbent picked up from the festive, well-choreographed Democratic National Convention.
Obama and Romney clawed for advantage yesterday in a post-convention push through some of the most closely contested states, Obama on a Florida bus tour, Romney rallying in Virginia, opening the homestretch to the November 6 election.
Each contender was seeking to frame the campaign on their own terms.
Romney was concentrating on the economy, while Obama sought to play to his strengths by portraying himself as a champion of the middle class.
Eager to change the subject after a dismal jobs report, Obama tried to rekindle some of the enthusiasm of his 2008 campaign with a bus tour through the pivotal state of Florida, urging supporters not to "buy into the cynicism that somehow the change we fought for isn`t possible."
Obama, speaking to a crowd of 11,000 at the Seminole campus of St. Petersburg College, gave Floridians a populist plea not to "turn away now."
"If you give up the idea that your voice can make a difference," Obama said, "then other folks are going to fill the void: the lobbyists, the special interests, the people who are writing $10 million checks, the folks who are trying to keep people from voting" and more.
Campaigning in a state where the 8.8 per cent jobless rate tops the national average, the president made no mention of Friday`s government report showing a weak employment outlook for the nation.
But he urged people to help him "finish what we started," and he put creating more jobs at the top of his to-do list.
Romney, a multimillionaire businessman and former Massachusetts governor, is casting Obama as an inept steward of the nation`s post-recession recovery, saying the president`s policies have inhibited job growth.
Obama is countering by repeatedly decrying Romney`s economic remedies such as tax cuts and deregulation as failed throwbacks to President George W Bush`s administration that would further endanger the economy.