Obama Pitches Recovery On Florida Tour

In Florida Saturday, President Obama made his pitch about an economy on the rebound, while stressing that there is much yet to be done. NPR's Don Gonyea reports from the perpetual battleground state.

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DON GONYEA, BYLINE: This is Don Gonyea in Florida, the perpetual battleground state that President Obama is touring by bus this weekend.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello, St. Pete.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GONYEA: St. Pete, of course, is St. Petersburg. Eleven thousand people attended an outdoor rally there yesterday morning. The president made his pitch about an economy on the way to recovery while stressing that there is much yet to be done, that too many Americans are still out of work. Florida's jobless rate is 8.8 percent - higher than the national average. Mr. Obama did not mention Friday's disappointing jobs report. Instead, he asked people to look at the choice the campaigns are offering.

OBAMA: We can keep giving more tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas just like the other side is arguing for, or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs right here in Florida.

GONYEA: And the president needled the GOP ticket's call for more across-the-board tax cuts.

OBAMA: Tax cuts when times are good. Tax cuts when times are bad. Tax cuts to help you lose a few extra pounds. Tax cuts to help your love life.

GONYEA: The president said the middle class does need a tax cut, but he repeated his long-held stand that the wealthiest Americans should pay more on income over $250,000 dollars. And because this is Florida, a haven for retirees, Mr. Obama is devoting time in every speech to Medicare. This was in Kissimmee.

OBAMA: I want you to know I will never turn Medicare into a voucher.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

OBAMA: You know, these guys are out there running these ads about how somehow we're weakening Medicare. We strengthened Medicare, extended its life for eight years.

GONYEA: Sixty-year-old Juna Brown was at the morning rally yesterday. She's a retiree who says she's not worried about a lack of enthusiasm among Democrats compared to the excitement Mr. Obama generated four years ago.

JUNA BROWN: It is different from four years ago. It's really different from four years ago. But it's different on both sides. If you notice, you do not see the T-shirt sales, the signs, the badges. You don't see it on either side as much as you did before.

GONYEA: Brown thinks the opportunity is there for the president to out-mobilize the Republicans. Four years ago, Mr. Obama carried Florida by less than 3 percentage points. Its 29 electoral votes make it a major prize, yet again. Don Gonyea, NPR News, with the Obama campaign in Florida.

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