The Washington Post

Obama continues to paint Romney as hardline conservative

President Obama used a rally to activists in Miami on Thursday to reiterate his campaign’s post-debate efforts to portray former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as a hardline conservative posing as a moderate.

Speaking to a crowd of 9,200 supporters in a packed BankUnited Center at the University of Miami ahead of Thursday evening’s vice presidential debate, Obama said his opponent was advocating a return to the “top-down economics” of the Bush administration.

“The centerpiece of Governor Romney’s economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthiest Americans,” he said. “Governor Romney has been pitching this plan for almost a year now. He stood up on the stage in one of his primary debates, proudly promised that his new tax cuts, on top of the Bush tax cuts, would include the top 1 percent.”

In a bid to limit the damage from his defeat in last week’s first presidential debate, which has seen most subsequent polls tighten to a dead heat, the president said Romney has used the debate – and subsequent interviews – to disguise these policies.

“He’s trying to go through an extreme makeover: After running for more than a year in which he called himself severely conservative, Mitt Romney is trying to convince you that he was severely kidding,” he said.

Explore the 2012 electoral map and view historical results and demographics

Attempting to tie Romney to Congress, which in recent months hit record low approval levels among U.S. voters, Obama cautioned:

“We know full well that if he gets the chance, Governor Romney will rubber-stamp the top-down agenda of this Republican Congress the second he takes office.”

Obama also took a veiled swipe at remarks Romney made at a fundraiser earlier in the yea, and which were secretly recorded, that apparently write off 47 percent of Americans, – something the president elected not to do during the first televised debate.

“You know, back in 2008, I won, but 47 percent of the country didn’t vote for me,” he said. “But you know, I didn’t just dismiss 47 percent of the country. What I said was, you may not have voted for me, but I heard your voices. And I’ll fight just as hard for you as I will for everybody else.”

Obama neglected to mention the forthcoming vice presidential debate during his remarks – his 23rd political event in Florida in 2012 – but others speaking on the same platform made no effort to dampen expectations ahead of the much-anticipated faceoff between Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), his Republican challenger.

Speaking about 45 minutes before the president, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told attendees that he’d spoken to Biden’s aides shortly before his flight from Andrews Air Force Base to the Kentucky debate site, and said that “tonight, Joe Biden will make mincemeat of Paul Ryan.”

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Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
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The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
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The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

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