Clinton comes out swinging in support of Obama

skennedy@bradenton.comNovember 3, 2012 

ST. PETERSBURG -- With only days left before the general election Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton defended President Barack Obama's efforts to right the nation's economy.

Clinton told the crowd that "Nobody, nobody, nobody," could have repaired in short order all the damage to the economy Obama inherited at the beginning of his term.

Clinton said that, over time, he has watched Obama make a series of good decisions.

"I want somebody who has proved that he will stick by his principles and work in a sensible way," Clinton told a cheering crowd at The Coliseum.

Clinton pointed to the nation's continuing economic recovery as proof.

With the election just days away and with the president and Mitt Romney in an apparent dead heat, the government reported Friday that employers added a stronger-than-expected 171,000 jobs, McClatchy Newspapers Inc. reported.

"I think he's the best guy for the country," explained Steve Puhalla, 50, of St. Pete Beach, about the president.

The self-employed construction worker added, "You got a choice: Are you going to be for the rich, or the working guy?"

He was concerned that Republicans wanted to eliminate Democratic health care reforms and Medicare.

"I think that's a bad idea," Puhalla said.

Also in the crowd was Erin O'Brien, 30, a teacher from St. Petersburg, who brought her five-month-old daughter, Molly.

"I want her to be able to have a future (in which she) has equal rights like everybody else, and to make choices for her own body," said O'Brien.

Mitt Romney's campaign aides took a different view.

"In a desperate attempt to make up for lost ground, President Obama has dispatched President Clinton to Florida to do what he could not -- convince Florida voters that he actually has a plan to create jobs and get our country back on the path to prosperity," said Jeff Bechdel, the campaign's Florida communications director.

"But Floridians know they can't afford four more years of more debt, higher taxes and unacceptably high unemployment. We need real change, and Mitt Romney is uniquely qualified to balance our budget, create jobs and deliver more take home pay for all Floridians."

The crowd Friday numbered about 1,800, according to Mike Johansen, foreman of the Coliseum.

The city overlooking Tampa Bay is among the areas in central Florida where presidential candidates have spent plenty of time and effort over past months in hopes of hoisting swing state Florida to their cause.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.com.

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