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Obama returns to Jax with refrain that middle class is 'at risk like never before'

Four years after running against the teetering economy, President Barack Obama returned to Jacksonville Thursday, the same place he used to draw a stark contrast to John McCain in 2008 who memorably told a Jacksonville audience after the fall of Lehman Brothers that “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.”

This time, Obama deflected criticism of a national economy still staggering under his watch and told a much smaller crowd that Wall Street’s “culture of anything goes” prompting the nation's record debt are the factors that continue to threaten the future of the middle class. 

“We are here today because we recognize that this basic bargain, this essence of who we are …is at risk like never before,’’ he said. “What’s standing in our way is not technical solutions…what’s standing in our way is our politics.’’ 

In his 27-minute speech, delayed by an hour because of bad weather, he appealed to the cheering crowd to work for him, saying the opposition "will spend more money than we’ve ever seen in our lifetime on ads that same the same thing:...the economy is not where it should be and it’s all Obama’s fault."

He called the tactic a "plan to win an election but they can’t hide the fact that's not a plan to create jobs. That’s not a plan to revive the economy."

He revived his familiar criticism of Romney’s plan for a “25 percent tax cut for every millionaire in the country” by gutting job training, and college aid, rolling back health care reform and “forcing more than 2,000 Floridians to pay more for their prescription drugs.” 

In 2008, a packed and enthusiastic crowd of 9,000 greeted Obama at Veteran’s Arena. This year, the number of supporters at Prime Osborn Convention Center was estimated at 3,000 on the first of a two-day swing through the nation’s largest battleground state.

Obama next heads to Century Village in West Palm Beach, the Democratic retirement haven, where he will continue his appeal to Florida seniors.

Obama warned that under Romney, his plan to support the Ryan budget will “end Medicare as we know it.’’ He said his health care reforms have helped seniors receive discounted prescription drugs and get access to free preventive care.

Republicans countered with their own claim that Obama’s policies “will end Medicare as we know it” and noted a Congressional Budget Office report that said payments under Obama’s Affordable Care Act will reduce benefits in the Medicare Advantage program by $507 billion and shrink enrollment by 50 percent.

Obama defended his support restoring the Bush tax cuts with an exemption for anyone making more than $250,000 a year saying he just wants to "go back to the rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, which by the way worked pretty well."

The president's strategy in Florida is defensive in part, as both sides acknowledge that while Obama could craft a victory by losing the Florida’s 29 electoral votes, the map makes a Romney victory virtually impossible without Florida.

For months, polls have shown the two candidates in a virtual dead heat. A Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll last week found that even the GOP’s favorite son, Marco Rubio, doesn’t bring enough votes to give Romney a pull-ahead margin if he were chosen as the vice presidential pick.

Meanwhile, Obama’s ground game in Florida has followed the successful template of 2012. He is steadily building a voter mobilization army with dozens of offices, hired staff and hundreds of  volunteers schooled in voter registration.

The campaign has also been spending heavily on television statewide, estimated at $17 million.

Obama lost to McCain in Duval County in 2008 by less than 2 percentage points, by 10 percentage points in Lee County won Palm Beach County by a margin of 61 to 38 percent.

Republicans greeted Obama Thursday with a new attack ad, paid for by the GOP-supporting super PAC American Crossroads. The ad, entitled “Smoke,” opens with a stream of critical negative ads and then announces the president is "racking up $4 billion in new debt every day, the unemployment rate is stuck above 8 percent, and family incomes are falling. President Obama can’t run on that record."

The $9.3 million ad buy includes $2. 8 million of spending in Florida and will also run in eight other states, the super-PAC said.

American Crossroads was founded by former George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove. It also airs in:  Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.

Florida's economy continues to remain stagnate as the unemployment rate drops but the number of people out of work remains steady. A report out this week by Florida Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research found that while Florida's unemployment rate has dropped from 9.9 percent in December to 8.6 percent in May, nearly 70 percent of the drop was due to people dropping out of the labor force.

"If the [labor] participation rate had held steady since 12/11 the unemployment rate would have been 9.5 percent," the report found. 

It’s statistic Romney campaign spokesman Jeff Bechdel also highlights, arguing it is a reflection on the inability of the president to ignite the economy. But, as proof of the tight rope Republicans must walk on the issue, Gov. Rick Scott’s spokesmen vigorously dispute the labor participation rate numbers as relevant.

On Friday, Obama will visit the all-important I-4 corridor with a stop in Winter Park and then return to the same stadium in Fort Myers where he announced his Recovery Act initiative and gave former Gov. Charlies Crist the infamous hug. 

Fort Myers has seen unemployment rates drop in the last six months, in line with the state decline, but there are 15,000 fewer people working in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers labor force than there were in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Jacksonville has seen its unemployment rate drop from 9.2 percent in December to 8 percent in May, lower than the statewide average of 8.6 percent. But the number of workers in the labor force is 20,000 fewer than there were in December according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Comments

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whasup

Let's see now ...

On the same trip the hapless, incompetent President is whining in Jacksonville about the impending doom of the middle class ...

he's headed down to Palm Beach to hobnob among the rich and beautiful folks there to collect $20,000 per head contributions ...

presumably these rich folks are the same ones whose interests are threatening the middle class.

Is the a presidential campaign ... or a vaudeville act?

Marty Martin

Millions COULD be employed now, but GOPers continue SABOTAGING the economy.
Taxpayers spent BILLIONS building roads & bridges in Iraq & Afghanistan - but NOT in America!
because Infrastructure would create PRIVATE jobs and GOPers NEED a lousy economy thru November.

GOP House votes to repeal Obamacare -- 33
GOP House votes for American Jobs Act-- 0

Minu De Icaza-Ramsey

GOP votes for American Jobs Act = 0

Have you read the amount of expenditures on that bill? They instead have proposed, specific jobs bills with the left over funds from the stimulus bill to cover these expenses without raising taxes. The 30 bills are sitting in Harry Reid's desk who is too affraid to bring them for a vote, while tagging the Republicans, the party of no. I guess Marty Martin would rather have his taxes raised while the jobs never materialize.

Bill

The labor force in Florida has been outsourced by President Obama...that's one why to reduce unemployment. Where did he send them? In to retirement...

Darkling Thrush

President Obama has made several attempts to reduce unemployment, including the "Bring Jobs Home" bill that Republicans blocked today. Republicans vowed to make him a one-term president, and they are determined to undermine any progress he might make on this or any other issue:
http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/19/politics/senate-bring-jobs-home-bill-blocked/index.html

whasup

Why is it that the Obama supporters don't deal with the issues head on, but rather exercise themselves to raise other distant issues, whenever somebody-like me-gives Obama heck about his duplicity?

Both of our political parties and their leadership are bought and paid for by mega-monied interests.

We are all consigned to be slaves or indentured servants to the powers that be. And neither Democrats nor Republicans want to or will do lift a little finger to remedy that.

John

"Obama returns to Jax with refrain that middle class is 'at risk like never before'"

Well, he's FINALLY telling the truth. Yes. the middle-class is at risk as never before --- from Obama and his Marxist buddies.

Dibou

Democrats ALREADY spend hundreds of billions of dollars on "investments in infrastructure" and we are supposed to pretend that never happened and suddenly that is the BIG PROBLEM?

Please. Just because Democrats write a bill that says "Jobs" in the title doesn't mean it helps America. As a matter of fact, given what they did to us with the "stimulus" it will just go to corrupt Democrat companies who then kick back some of our money to the Party. We get screwed. America gets weaker, but hey Obama still throws million dollar parties in the White House for media and billionaires so, they got theirs!

Democrats had ABSOLUTE POWER yet still would not pass a budget because they don't want to tell you what they will do to you. We are screwed under all those ultra-rich Democrats. Democrats are power mad and greedy.

LagunaTina

President Obama, you have had 4 years Sir with 2 of those years having complete control over this nation's political complex. We are no better off than we we're when you made us your campaign promises and truth be told much worse off. Something must be done and following your current "whatever policy" is no longer an option for me, my family or our family business. We need to hit refresh concerning leadership of this country with the rule of law firmly reestablished.

magicbeans

He is such a liar. It is your fault Obama. Why not let us build the Keystone pipeline? Why are you so anti business? Why bury business in regulations and taxes? Why haven't you met with your job council in 6 months. Because your job council agrees with Mitt Romney's plan? The only job this dude cares about is his own.

A recession is when your neighbor loses his job
A depression is when you lse your job
And Recovery is when Obama loses his.

Romney 2012!!

Sir Read Moore

The middle class is only at risk because of Obama's policies. The mask has been fully removed and we know him for what he really is. He claims that if you have a business that "You did not build that." He is saying that without government you cannot be successful. I say without the small business the country cannot be successful. Where does tax revenue come from? Business built this country! It is our duty to make sure it thrives. We are not a collective. We are individuals amongst a group of fellow citizens. Get government off our backs.

ertdfg

So we need to keep their tax rates low; but only for one more year... then let them go up on everyone.

Sure the Republicans want to keep the rates locked in forever; but that's wrong; we need to raise the middle class tax rates next year.. when I'm not in an election campaign anymore.

No? Why are the Democrats looking for a "1 year fix" when the Republicans are pushing for a permanent extension then? Why do the Democrats only think one year's worth of taxes are meaningful, but the year after the election they should again revert back to the higher rates for everyone?

Oh, and which President said it was foolish and nonproductive to raise tax rates during a recession? Obama? Naah, couldn't be, seeing as he's working toward that goal right now.

Hoser

Marty Martin, where did the trillion dollar stimulus go?
That was suppose to be for shovel ready roads and bridges work.
Nobody can seem to accurately account for a TRILLION dollars.Maybe Chuck Shumer was right, 79% of the stimulus money went to overseas companies.

Oh, and yeah, I realize me quoting Shumer will be unfair and out of context in your mind, everyone else's, not so much.

Matt

everyone should pay taxes! if you have kids you should pay more taxes, you're part of the problem. Republicans and Democrats are the same evil monster, they're fighting for power that's it.

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