This was Obama’s second trip in the past four days to Florida, where mobilizing the Hispanic vote is seen as critical to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton winning the state.
So far Florida has seen a big increase in early voting compared with 2012, and early indications are that Hispanics, moved by Republican nominee Donald Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric and calls for a wall on the southern U.S. border, are coming out in big numbers. The surge of Latino voters in Florida, a state that Trump probably must win if he is going to take the White House, bodes well for Clinton.
“If we win Florida, it is a wrap,” Obama said Sunday. “If we win Florida, it is over.”
Obama was speaking on friendly ground in Osceola and Orange counties, which encompass the Orlando and Kissimmee areas. The president won both counties in 2012 with significant help from both black and Hispanic voters, two constituencies that the president was aiming to mobilize on Sunday.
Before Obama spoke, Stevie Wonder sang for the crowd at a rainy outdoor baseball stadium here.
The president ran through his normal stump speech Sunday, touting improvements in the economy over the past eight years and taunting Trump, whom he referred to as “The Donald.”
“Apparently his campaign has taken away his Twitter. They had so little confidence in his self-control,” Obama said of Trump's campaign staff, referring to a report in the New York Times. If the Republican can't handle Twitter, the president argued, he cannot be trusted with the country's nuclear codes.
Obama, as he has repeatedly over the past several months, questioned Trump's temperament for the White House, highlighting the Republican nominee's derogatory comments about women.
On Sunday, he accused Trump of lying about his handling of a pro-Trump heckler at a rally in Fayetteville, N.C. Trump later accused Obama have having “screamed at” the man and called the incident “a disgrace.”
In fact, Obama sought to calm the crowd, which was lustily booing the protester, by reminding them of his right to free speech and urging respect for the older man wearing a military uniform.
“There was a tape. There was video,” Obama said. “The point is that he thought it was okay just to lie in front of his supporters, on television; wasn't even trying to be sneaky about it.”
After his speech, Obama spent a moment with J.J. Holmes, a 12-year-old boy with a severe case of cerebral palsy who had been pushed out of a Trump rally Saturday in Tampa. A White House photographer snapped photographs of Obama shaking hands with J.J. and standing behind the boy's wheelchair, according to a pool report.
J.J. said that he had gone to the Saturday rally to protest Trump's mocking of people who have disabilities. His mother, Alison Holmes, brought her son, who speaks only through a computer vocalization device. “The crowd started chanting 'U-S-A' and pushing his wheelchair,” Holmes said.
As Holmes spoke, J.J. said through his vocalization device: “I hate Donald Trump. I hate Donald Trump.”
Holmes looked down at her son with what seemed to be a mixture of pride and concern. “We were put out by security,” she said. “Mr. Trump kept saying, 'Get them out.' "
Obama's Kissimmee appearance followed a pattern for the president, who has focused this election season on rallying young and minority voters who backed him by large margins in the past but who in some instances have been slow to warm up to Clinton.
The president will return to the campaign trail Monday, when he will mount a get-out-the-vote effort for Clinton with stops in New Hampshire, Michigan and Pennsylvania.