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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Biden pans Romney's 'Etch A Sketchy' plans at Sun City Center rally



SUN CITY CENTER – Vice President Joe Biden energized a hall of senior citizens in this mostly conservative community on Friday, issuing bold warnings for entitlement programs and taxes in a Mitt Romney administration. 

Biden’s address to an overflow crowd of about 1,150 people at a Sun City Center community hall tackled Republican talking points on the new health care law and Medicare. 

He delivered a few laugh lines, including one that picked up on Obama’s characterization of Romney’s tax plan during Tuesday’s debate as a “sketchy deal.”

 “I’m reluctant to correct the president on that,” Biden said. “But I would respectfully suggest they’re not sketchy. They’re Etch A Sketchy.”

The visit marked Biden’s ninth trip to Florida this year. This one wasn’t exactly in friendly territory.

Sun City Center has a population of more than 19,000 people, 77 percent of whom are 65 or older, according to 2010 census data. 

In the 2008 presidential election, among Sun City Center voters for Obama and John McCain, McCain won about 60 percent of the vote. 

The division showed as several dozen Romney supporters lined the road and waved signs from their yards and golf carts as ticket-holders entered the event site. One person wore a grim reaper’s costume and held a scythe and a poster that said, “America is dying because of Obama.” 

“We are very educated people and we know the truth,” said Carol Howley, a 69-year-old resident holding a Romney sign while perched on the back of a green golf cart. “It scares us that all these people are voting for Obama. We’re not for socialism.”

 Doris Thomas, 84, is an independent voter who has lived here for 23 years. She said she’s always felt part of the political minority. “I didn’t know that this many people would come out for a Democrat,” she said. “To tell you the truth, I’m surprised.”

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[Last modified: Friday, October 19, 2012 6:35pm]


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