Thursday, November 23, 2017
Politics

President Barack Obama pleads for support from adoring crowd in Tampa

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — President Barack Obama used the first Florida rally of his 2012 campaign on Friday to blast Mitt Romney as an "outsourcing pioneer" and promised a second term focused on helping the middle class more than the wealthiest Americans.

"Since the last time I ran, my hair is a little grayer, and I know we've been through some tough times together," Obama said. "But I told you back in 2008 that I would always tell you what I thought, that I would wake up every day thinking of you and fighting for you. Tampa, I have kept that promise. I still believe in you. I need you to still believe in me."

He drew an adoring and energetic crowd of nearly 3,000 people to Hillsborough Community College, receiving cheers of support after almost every sentence he uttered. Some people arrived at the HCC campus as early as 7:30 in the morning, camped out with folding chairs and deli sandwiches.

As he entered the HCC gymnasium, Obama tripped on his way to the stage but quipped, "I was so fired up I missed a stair."

Before leaving Tampa, the president held a private fundraising reception with about 25 people who paid $20,000 apiece.

In Tampa and at an earlier speech to Hispanic leaders in Orlando, the president cast the election as a choice between starkly different visions: One approach would focus largely on the wealthiest Americans, and the other, his, more on the middle class.

"They want to roll back regulations, and give insurance companies and credit card companies and mortgage lenders even more power to do as they please," the president told the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. "They want to spend $5 trillion on new tax cuts — including a 25 percent tax cut for every millionaire in the country. And they want to pay for it by raising middle-class taxes and gutting middle-class priorities like education and training and health care and medical research. And that's it. That's it. That's their economic plan."

Obama said he'd reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next four years. He said he had a plan that will "cut spending we can't afford, strengthen programs like Medicare for the long haul, reform our tax code in a way that's fair and responsible."

In Tampa, he seized on a Washington Post article that the venture capital firm Romney used to lead, Bain Capital, invested in companies that specialized in sending jobs to low-wage countries. The president noted that he is calling for an end to tax breaks for shipping jobs and plants overseas.

"Not only does Gov. Romney disagree with this plan, today it was reported in the Washington Post that the companies his firm owned were 'pioneers' in the outsourcing of American jobs to places like China and India. Pioneers," Obama said. "Tampa, we don't need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office. We need a president who will fight for American jobs and American manufacturing. And that's what my plan will do."

The Romney campaign dismissed the attack as an effort to shift attention away from the poor economy under the president's leadership.

"Mitt Romney has a proven record of job creation in the private sector, and he has been praised by prominent Democrats like President Clinton for his 'sterling' business career,'' said campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "If President Obama had even half of Mitt Romney's record on jobs, he'd be running for re-election on it. But President Obama has the worst record on jobs and the economy of any president in modern history, and he is desperate to distract from his shameful legacy of higher taxes, skyrocketing deficits and less jobs."

Florida is a must-win state for Romney, and the average of recent polls compiled by RealClearPolitics shows a tight race with Obama leading by less than 2 percentage points. Hispanic voters could be a key factor in Florida and several other battleground states, which is why Romney addressed NALEO on Thursday, followed by Obama on Friday.

The president highlighted to the overwhelmingly Democratic group his support for the DREAM Act, giving the children of illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship and his recent declaration that he would stop deporting many young illegal immigrants.

"I refused to keep looking young people in the eye, deserving young people in the eye, and tell them, 'Tough luck, the politics is too hard,' " Obama said, blaming Republicans for blocking comprehensive immigration policy reform.

Former Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, a leading advocate for immigration reform, said he was turned off by Obama's partisanship.

"The president, sadly enough, politicized the whole thing. The president has never put forward a proposal on immigration," said Martinez, who also addressed the group. "He says he acted for the DREAM Act kids. If it was right to do it, and he had the authority to do it, why wait until four months before the elections?"

A poll by Latino Decisions and America's Voice released Friday found Hispanic voters in Florida, favor Obama over Romney 53 percent to 37 percent. Fifty percent said they were more enthusiastic about Obama since he announced he would ease deportations of young undocumented residents.

The president, who returns to Florida on Tuesday for a fundraiser in Miami, told his Tampa Bay supporters to prepare for a rough campaign.

"All that money will be spent on ads that say the economy is bad and that I'm in over my head, or I think everyone is doing just fine," Obama said. "They will have ad after ad after ad. And all of them will have scary voices. And pictures of me looking old and broke down," he said to laughter.

The ads may be effective, he told the crowd, so he needs help countering them.

"I need you to hit the doors, make phone calls, get on Facebook, get on Twitter," he said.

Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report.

Comments
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Updated: 3 hours ago
As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months old. Undocument...
Published: 11/22/17

Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff Reince Priebus and foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka — failed to file legally required financial reports after they were dismissed this summer, according to government re...
Published: 11/22/17
William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

It’s an old joke that Florida’s lieutenant governor, with no duties specified in the state Constitution except to fill in if the governor is disabled or dies, has little to do except monitor the governor’s health. State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, ...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Associated PressPALM BEACH — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an "ungrateful foo...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moor...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Published: 11/21/17
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A second woman has accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching.Lindsay Menz tells CNN that Franken placed his hand on her bottom as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, two years into Fran...
Published: 11/20/17
Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

TAMPA — A week ahead of the expected vote on a controversial tax reform bill, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., visited Tampa to deliver a message to small businesses: This bill will hurt you."Small businesses are the economic engine of F...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17