Hundred of thousands of Puerto Ricans who live in Central Florida are a key voter group for both sides, with former Republican governor Jeb Bush, popular among the state’s Puerto Ricans, helping to make the case for Romney.
Obama’s campaign so far has failed to win over as many Puerto Ricans as it needs, according to one of the campaign’s pollsters, Sergio Bendixen. He exhorted a meeting of Hispanic delegates to last week’s Democratic National Convention to step up their efforts, using a PowerPoint of recent polling data to show Obama falling short among Puerto Ricans.
He reported that Obama leads Romney among Puerto Ricans in Florida, 54-32 – a majority, but still not enough.
“We need to get that number into the seventies,” Bendixen said.
The candidates were playing heavily to their bases at a time when polls show that there are not huge numbers of undecided voters — between 6 percent and 10 percent of the voters have said they might change their minds between now and Nov. 6.
The economy remains sluggish and the campaign has been relentlessly negative, so the challenge of motivating voters to turn out on Election Day remains high. Both sides have begun to focus on early voting, which begins in the swing state of Ohio on Sept. 27 and in other swing states shortly after.
In two weeks, Virginians will be able to cast early ballots, and the Romney campaign plans to focus on the economy in making its case. At 5.9 percent, the state’s unemployment rate is well below the national average, yet Romney will continue to center his argument on the possibility of impending cuts to the defense industry.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that will air Sunday morning, Romney said it was a “big mistake” for House Republicans to agree to the plan last summer to raise the debt ceiling, a plan that included the looming defense cuts initially proposed by the White House.
“The president was responsible for coming out with specific changes they’d make to the defense budget,” Romney said, according to an excerpt of the interview released by NBC. The details of the proposed cuts were “supposed to have come out this last week. He has violated the law that he in fact signed. The American people need to understand how it is that our defense is going to be so badly cut.”
Peter Wallsten in Washington contributed to this report.