Politics & Government

Obama stumps for votes in Tampa

Diana Louis and Sharisma Smith went to hear President Obama speak Thursday because, as young black women, they think he will help them find jobs when they graduate from college.

The two, both juniors at Tampa’s University of South Florida, questioned whether Republican Mitt Romney has their best interests in mind.

“I don’t see eye-to-eye with him,” said Smith, 20, who is studying business administration. “As a woman and a black person, he can’t relate.”“I feel Obama is more progressive for college students, especially.”

Louis, also 20, who is studying psychology, said, “I feel like Romney is more concerned about the upper classes, not those who are trying to get jobs.” Ronnie L. Moorer, 57, a Tampa artist and African-American artifact collector, expressed similar doubts about the Republican candidate, saying he believed in what Obama stands for, and what he’s doing for the country.

“He has a better economic plan than Romney,” said Moorer. “He’s for the people, and Romney, he’s for the rich people.”

During an appearance early Thursday, Obama contrasted his economic plan with that of his Republican challenger, urging the crowd to remember Romney’s policies “aren’t going to work.”

Obama noted that Romney’s economic plan “says folks at the very top get to play by a different set of rules than you do,” paying lower tax rates, outsourcing jobs and rolling back Wall Street reforms.

Romney’s view is based upon the same philosophy that created a great recession, Obama said, adding, “We tried that in the last decade, and it didn’t work.”The president said he has spent four years cleaning up the mess.

“He’s counting on you forgetting that his policies aren’t going to work,” the president said of Romney at Ybor Centennial Park.

“He’s hoping that you won’t remember, and you’ll come down with a case of what we call ‘Romnesia.’”

“He’s hoping you won’t remember that his economic plan is likely to create jobs in China, not America,” because it rewards companies that ship jobs overseas, said the president.

Obama also referred to what he called “the issue of trust,” saying trust matters.

He cited as examples ending the war in Iraq, transitioning out of Afghanistan, and sending al-Qaida on the path to defeat, with its leader, Osama Bin Laden, now dead.“I’ve kept those promises,” he said.

The Romney campaign took issue with Obama’s statement that he had preserved Medicare.

“President Obama says that ‘trust matters,’ but Florida seniors already know that he cannot be trusted to preserve Medicare,” said Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign.

“President Obama cut Medicare by over $700 billion, which will force seniors off Medicare Advantage and drive up out-of-pocket costs for current retirees, and he has no plan to save Medicare for future generations.”

The president urged voters to stick with his policies, which are proving successful as the economy gains strength.

“And now, it’s up to you, now it’s up to you, right here in Florida today,” he said, “You can choose the path that we go from here; it’s up to the young people here to choose the future you that you want to see.”

“You can choose the top-down policies that got us into this mess, or you can choose the policies that are getting us out of this mess.”

As the president spoke, polls showed that less than two weeks out from Election Day, Romney has erased Obama’s 16-point advantage among women, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. And the president, in turn, has largely eliminated Romney’s edge among men.

Those churning gender dynamics leave the presidential race still a virtual dead heat, with Romney favored by 47 percent of likely voters and Obama by 45 percent, a result within the poll’s margin of sampling error, the survey shows, according to the Associated Press.

The streets of the old Latin neighborhood of Ybor City teemed with a crowd, which Tampa Fire Marshal Milton Jenkins estimated at about 8,500.Some had parked across the street in the private parking lot of the venerable Columbia Restaurant.

When motorists returned to retrieve their cars, they found a flier from Richard Gonzmart, whose family has operated The Columbia for more than 100 years.It urged them to vote for Romney.

“Five Generations of my family built this private parking lot — but we haven’t towed you,” it said. “I do hope you vote for Romney — because it is about people helping people — not being told by the government to help people.”

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