Vice President Joe Biden, dispatched to Florida on the strength of his appeal to two key constituencies — seniors and blue-collar workers -- represented the Obama campaign Friday in the Tampa Bay area.
Ann Romney and Michelle Obama, both seeking to give their husbands an edge among female voters, have scheduled events in South Florida in the coming days.
On Thursday, Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan was on the trail in Fort Myers and Ocala, and he was set to join GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Daytona Beach on Friday evening for a large rally. It was the 10th straight week that the campaigns have had a presence in Florida.
The contest for the state has been tightly competitive for most of the year, with Obama’s mid-September edge now apparently gone. There has also been significant variability in polls taken after the first presidential debate, with a Mason-Dixon poll showing Romney up seven percentage points and an NBC-WSJ-Marist poll showing Obama up only one percentage point.
According to a CNN/ORC International poll conducted in Florida after the second presidential debate, the race is virtually tied. Romney has the support of 49% of likely voters, with 48% backing President Obama. Romney’s one point margin is well within the survey’s sampling error.
For Romney, the stakes in Florida couldn’t be higher since his quest for 270 electoral votes will be much more challenging without a Florida win. He nabbed the endorsement of the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. The paper endorsed Obama in 2008.
“Romney has a strong record of leadership to run on,” the editorial said. “He built a successful business. He rescued the 2002 Winter Olympics from scandal and mismanagement. As governor of Massachusetts, he worked with a Democrat-dominated legislature to close a $3 billion budget deficit without borrowing or raising taxes, and pass the health plan that became a national model. This is Romney’s time to lead, again.”
Obama, meanwhile, picked up the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times.
“This is not the time to reverse course and return to the failed policies of the past,” the editorial says.
The recent drop in the national unemployment rate below 8 percent hasn’t helped Obama much in Florida, where the jobless rate for September was 8.7 percent, with just 800 jobs created according to state data released Friday. And the state is ranked No. 1 in the country for home foreclosures.
But during an event Friday in Sun City Center, Fla., Biden made the argument that Romney would make things worse, not better, for Floridians.
Biden said that until only recently, Romney and Ryan were touting “massive tax cuts for the very wealthy, because they are the ‘job creators’ . . . and significant cuts, particularly in entitlements, to vital programs because that’s the only way to get the country in shape, they argue.”