Election 2012: Obama aims to keep pressure on Romney in Florida
U.S. President Barack Obama (l) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (r). PHOTO/AP
President Barack Obama is trying to keep the pressure on rival Mitt Romney, opening two days of campaigning in Florida in search of military veterans, seniors and unaligned voters in the state’s crucial midsection.
Obama was holding events Thursday in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach as his campaign urges Romney to release more years of his tax returns and keeps a sharp focus on the former Massachusetts governor’s tenure as the head of a private equity firm.
Florida is the largest and most coveted of the nation’s Election Day toss-up states, a place where Romney could severely damage Obama’s chances of winning re-election. Republicans are holding their national convention in Tampa in August in hopes of giving themselves an edge in the state.
If Obama can lock down Florida’s 29 electoral votes, it would be difficult for Romney to mount enough support elsewhere to capture the White House.
Polls have shown Obama and Romney in a dead heat in the state, which has struggled with an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent, above the national average, and a still-recovering housing market. Florida provided the deciding margin in George W. Bush’s victory in 2000 and has been closely contested ever since, with Obama carrying the state in 2008.
Obama aides noted that since 1992, Floridians have cast more than 32.5 million votes during the past five presidential elections and only 57,000 votes have separated the two parties in those campaigns. “Florida’s always a close state and we don’t expect that to change between now and November,” said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.
Both sides are jockeying for an advantage.