The long lines were too much for some. Helen McLaughlin, of Dunedin, stood in line for 90 min before retreating to a bench — just in time to see the presidential motorcade arrive.
McLaughlin, who recently had hip surgery, squealed and jumped back to her feet.
“When Obama came in, he had a hard job,” she said. “(George W.) Bush left it pretty bad ... He’s getting everything in order. You gotta give him a chance.”
The event drew about 50 protestors, including a man dressed in an elephant costume protesting the treatment of circus elephants and another waiving a sign that says, “We the people built it.”
Bob Kunst, 70, of Miami Beach, just got back from protesting at both political conventions. Kunst said he is Jewish, a registered Democrat and voting for Romney. “I’m voting for Romney not because I’m overwhelmed by him, but because I have to change the regime,” he said. “I can’t give Obama four more years.”
Obama’s visit to Pinellas County is the first stop on a two-day bus tour through Florida, and comes on the heels of the Democratic National Convenion in Charlotte, N.C.
Florida, with 29 electoral votes, is considered the biggest swing state in a presidential race that remains a near dead heat. A RealClearPolitics average of national polls shows Obama at 47 percent and Republican Mitt Romney at 46.3 percent.
The national polls mirror the mood in Florida. An Aug. 31-Sep. 2 Florida poll conducted by Public Policy Policy shows a statistical tie: Obama 48, Romney 47.
Obama flew into St.Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport late Friday and stayed in the area overnight. Air Force One sat in full of drivers passing by the airport, with many people stopping to take photos.
Times staff writers Boyzell Hosey, Sharon Wynne and Melissa Lyttle contributed to this report.