|May 17, 2012||In Florida, Romney hammers Obama on the economy By Holly Bailey||no comments|
For the second day in a row, Mitt Romney trashed President Barack Obama's record on government spending, suggesting the growing federal debt is going to lead to a "dramatic" tax increase and drag down an already sluggish economy.
Speaking in St. Petersburg, Fla., the presumptive Republican nominee was flanked by a group of seniors and spoke in front of a digital sign ticking off the growing federal deficit.
Echoing his speech in Iowa Tuesday, Romney said the country needs a president who will stop the "spending and borrowing inferno" and insisted he is the man for the job.
While he acknowledged that both parties are to blame for the nation's debt problem, Romney repeatedly said that Obama had been critical of "his predecessor" in office—a nod toward former President George W. Bush, who informally endorsed Romney on Tuesday.
But Romney declined to mention the former GOP president's name. That's perhaps a nod to how unhelpful a reminder of the Bush record would be to Romney's chances in a state like Florida, which has been plagued by some of the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the country since the recession began in 2008.
Instead, Romney kept the focus on Obama, saying he hasn't "stopped" what his "predecessor" began but rather, "he's added to it."
"Every year, every day, it's getting bigger and bigger," Romney said. "This is where your taxes are going. They're going to pay for the interest on the hidden debt."
At one point, Romney repeated his pledge to repeal Obama's health care reform law—a vow that prompted a standing ovation and wild cheers from the crowd. The enthusiastic response seemed to catch the presumptive Republican nominee off-guard, prompting him to jokingly ask if the crowd could accompany him to all of his political stops in the state.
Several recent polls have found Romney and Obama statistically tied in Florida, which is considered a must-win for Romney this fall. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 70 percent of voters in the state believe the country is still in a recession, a number that has prompted Obama's favorability rating in the state to drop in recent months. Forty-nine percent of those polled believe Romney would do a better job on the economy—a 9-point advantage over Obama.
Romney, who is campaigning in Florida Wednesday and Thursday, is trying to keep the focus on the economy in the state—knowing it is where Obama is the most vulnerable.
Speaking about foreclosure rates Wednesday, Romney noted, "There has been no place hit harder than Florida."
He described the Obama presidency as a "disappointment, at best."
"This is a tough time," Romney said. "This is not as it was promised to be."