Crowd: “… Vote!”
Romney has been surging in national polls after winning last week’s debate. A new poll of likely voters conducted for The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald and the Tampa Bay Times showed Romney has opened a 7 percentage-point lead over Obama in Florida, a must-win swing state.
Until last week, Obama was nursing an inside-the-error margin lead over Romney in Florida and nationwide.
Those numbers gave Obama a new sense of urgency Thursday. After the speech, he headed to the JW Marriott Marquis for a fundraiser with his campaign’s national co-chairwoman, actress Eva Longoria. Later Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden would debate Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Democrats hope Biden does a better job against Ryan than Obama did against Romney.
The president did not mention Biden or Thursday night’s debate.
And Obama avoided Libya, the day after House Republicans held a special hearing into the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Amid the four grueling hours of testimony, Obama administration officials admitted that they refused to beef up security before the attacks and made misleading statements about what probably caused them.
Democrats have tried to portray the hearings as a political show, noting that a lead lawmaker involved is a Romney campaign surrogate.
Before the Benghazi attacks gave Republicans an opening, foreign policy had been an Obama strong point, and he highlighted his successes in Thursday’s speech.
“Four years ago I told you I’d end the war in Iraq,” he said, to loud applause. “I said we’d end the war in Afghanistan, and we are. I said we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11, and today Al-Qaeda is on the run, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”
To try to get out the youth vote that helped him win office in 2008, Obama mentioned key issues for students: federal funding for college loans, a plan to invest more in renewable energy and Obamacare, which allows young people under 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance. He also pointed to the 7.8 percent national unemployment rate as a sign that the economy is improving.
“We know we’re not where we need to be. Not yet,” he acknowledged. “That’s especially true in places like Florida that were so hard hit.”
When he took the stage, jacketless and with a tie, Obama gave shout outs to Nelson; U.S. Rep’s. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens; Joe Garcia, who is running for Congress in a Kendall-to-Key West district; and to students in the audience from Miami Northwestern Senior High School.
"Everything that we fought for in 2008 is on the line in 2012," Obama said. "I need your help to finish what we started."