Eager to change the subject after a dismal jobs report, President Barack Obama tried to rekindle some of the enthusiasm of his 2008 campaign Saturday with a bus tour through a must-win swath of Florida, urging supporters not to "buy into the cynicism that somehow the change we fought for isn't possible." Republican Mitt Romney wasn't about to stop hammering him over the weak economy, though, as the two sides jostled over who can best salve the anxieties of the middle class.
Obama, speaking to a crowd of 11,000 at the Seminole campus of St. Petersburg College, gave Floridians a populist plea not to "turn away now."
"If you give up the idea that your voice can make a difference," Obama said, "then other folks are going to fill the void: the lobbyists, the special interests, the people who are writing $10 million checks, the folks who are trying to keep people from voting" and more.
Campaigning in a state where the 8.8-percent jobless rate tops the national average, the president made no mention of Friday's government report showing a weak employment outlook for the nation. But he urged people to help him "finish what we started," and he put creating more jobs at the top of his to-do list.
Romney, in Virginia's military-dependent Tidewater area, was determined to keep the spotlight on weak jobs outlook laid out in the latest Labor Department report. He raised the issue before an audience of 4,000 at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach.
"This is not the kind of news that the American people are hoping for and deserve," Romney said. Then he projected forward to a Romney presidency to add: "I'm here to tell you that things are about to get a lot better." -- AP