PENSACOLA, Fla. – Mitt Romney swooped into Florida’s Republican-dominated panhandle Saturday to rally his conservative base, charging that President Obama was “shrinking from the magnitude of the times” and pledging to undo much of his first-term record.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney hit back at President Obama’s “horses and bayonets” line during the last presidential debate and said the Navy needs more ships.
Romney continued his new mantra that he would bring “real change and big change to America” and promised to work across the aisle with Democrats to tackle big challenges like the growing debt. And, visiting an area heavily populated with active and retired military, Romney slammed Obama for mocking him in the last debate over his proposal to add more ships to the Navy.
On the first day of early voting in Florida, Romney is campaigning across the Sunshine State with Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.). He is trying to gin up enthusiasm for his candidacy, especially here in North Florida, where he will need to win by big margins to offset Obama’s strength in South Florida.
“You know, the supporters of the president’s have this chant – ‘Four more years! Four more years!’” Romney said. He said that he preferred the chant, “Ten more days!” And at that, the crowd of 10,000 supporters packed into a hockey arena chanted back, “Ten more days! Ten more days!”
Romney warned Floridians of what he sees as the perils of Obama’s reelection, citing mandatory defense budget cuts that would go into effect only if Congress and the White House fail to reach a deal to cut the deficit. Although Obama has said he opposes so-called sequestration cuts, Romney tried to hang them on the president.
“I believe in a modern Navy,” Romney said. “That’s why my plan is to increase the number of ships we’re building to maintain our strong commitment to our military. His vision is not greatness in America’s Navy or America’s military. His vision is to cut our military spending by a trillion dollars. And, by the way, a trillion dollars in cuts would cost about 41,000 jobs here in Florida — and think of all the businesses that depend on all those jobs.”
Romney attacked Obama for not working closely enough with Republicans in Congress and argued that he, not Obama, would be able to find common ground and bring Republicans and Democrats together.
But Romney’s campaign rally took on a sharply partisan tone. One of the introductory speakers, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), delivered a fiery introductory speech in which he suggested that Obama’s fault that U.S. diplomatic workers were killed last month in Benghazi, Libya.
“America deserves a president that will not leave a United States ambassador and three others,” Miller said, as the crowd chanted, “U.S.A! U.S.A!” Miller added, “Mr. President, the phone rang and you didn’t answer it.”
And then Rubio, introducing Romney, mocked Obama’s second-term agenda as a “picture book” promoting ideas of lesser foreign nations.
“He just put out a picture book that he calls his plan for the next four years,” Rubio said. “Unfortunately there’s nothing really innovative in that picture book. They’re the ideas that have failed every time they’ve ever been tried.”
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said these were “not exactly the words of a party who wants to reach across the aisle and get things done.”
“The American people shouldn’t trust a word Mitt Romney says on his promise of bipartisanship,” Smith said in a statement. “Over the last six years he’s been running for president, he hasn’t stood up once to the most extreme voices in the Republican Party – in fact, he catered to them.”