TAMPA -- Amid declining poll numbers and political fortunes, President Barack Obama on Thursday tried to reconnect with the fickle state that helped put him in the White House and urged voters to keep the faith despite Florida's withering recession.
He aimed his message at the coveted independent voters clustered in this part of Florida who broke with tradition in 2008 and cast ballots for the Democratic nominee. Independent voters have recently carried Republican candidates to statewide victories in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey, raising the GOP's hopes for the 2010 election.
The Tampa town hall was the first joint appearance outside the Washington area by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden since last February, when they traveled to Colorado to sign the economic stimulus bill into law.
"It's always nice to be out of Washington and spend a little time with the people who sent me to Washington,'' Obama told a raucous University of Tampa arena filled with more than 2,500 people.
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