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Obama Trades Barbs With Romney in Post-Convention Campaign

President Barack Obama, campaigning in Florida, told voters in this battleground state with a concentration of senior citizens that he’ll protect their Medicare and Social Security while suggesting Republican Mitt Romney would not.

“I will never turn Medicare into voucher system,” Obama told 11,000 supporters at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole campus in Seminole, Florida. Republicans’ idea of reform is “just dumping the cost on seniors,” Democrat Obama said.

Obama pledged to “keep the promise of Social Security” and “not by turning it over to Wall Street.” Obama also said Romney’s call to repeal the health-care expansion known as “Obamacare” earns its own nickname: “Romneydon’tcare.”

Obama and Romney are trading long-distance barbs through key swing states as the post-convention phase of the campaign gets under way.

Romney has rallies today New Hampshire and in Virginia, where he’ll attend a NASCAR race tonight at the Richmond International Raceway. Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams, in a statement after Obama spoke in Seminole, said the president’s speech was full of “empty promises and false attacks” and that Obama isn’t doing enough to create jobs.

Hugging Obama

In Seminole, Obama was introduced by Charlie Crist, the former Republican Florida governor who is now giving his support to Democrats. Crist was chided in his own party for hugging Obama early in his presidency and he lost a 2010 Senate bid to Marco Rubio. Today, the Democratic crowd cheered as Crist and Obama hugged onstage.

Obama said he will reduce the deficit “without sticking it to the middle class” while Romney would reduce regulation of Wall Street and prioritize more tax breaks for wealthy Americans.

While Obama yesterday only touched on a disappointing jobs report, Romney, in Iowa, hammered the president over the nation’s 8.1 percent unemployment rate and a disappointing jobs report that the Republican nominee called “simply unimaginable.”

The U.S. Labor Department reported the economy added 96,000 jobs in August, down from a revised gain of 141,000 in July and fewer than forecast. While the unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent in July, the report showed 368,000 Americans left the job market and the share of the working-age population in the labor force slumped to 63.5 percent, the lowest since 1981.

Tax Cuts

Chiding Republicans for urging more tax cuts for high earners, Obama told 6,000 supporters yesterday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, his opponents may as well recommend tax cuts to “help you lose a few pounds” or “improve your love life.” He added: “It’ll cure anything, according to them. I’ve cut taxes for people who need it.”

Obama also campaigned in Iowa before he flew to Florida, where he’ll end tomorrow in West Palm Beach. Romney released 15 new television advertisements targeted at voters in eight battleground states that argue Americans are no better off than they were when Obama took office.

Last night, at a minor league baseball park in Nashua, New Hampshire, Romney called the latest jobs numbers “another disappointing, sad report,” and said the president hasn’t leveled with the public about the impact of his agenda.

“This president hasn’t taken responsibility for what has been a failure of his economic policies,” Romney told a crowd of 4,000 at Holman Stadium, home of the Nashua Silver Knights, as they hoisted red and white signs from their seats spelling out MITT in giant letters. Obama’s convention speech, Romney said, “was a whole series of new promises. He didn’t deliver on the last ones; why should we expect him to deliver on these?”

Gaining Momentum

Obama adviser David Plouffe told reporters traveling on Air Force One that the president left the convention “with momentum,” driven in part by former President Bill Clinton’s advocacy in a prime-time convention speech.

Plouffe said he didn’t expect either convention to produce major changes in the dynamics of the race.

“Our belief is that we entered the convention with a small but important lead in most” of eight battleground states, Plouffe said. “Our suspicion is the race is going to be about where it was. And that’s a problem for Mitt Romney.”

Obama’s job approval reached a 15-month high during the Democratic convention, according to a Gallup Poll. Conducted Sept. 4-6 and released yesterday, it found 52 percent of Americans approve of the president’s job performance, up 3 percentage points from a survey conducted Sept. 3-5. In the new poll, 43 percent disapproved of the job Obama is doing, down from 45 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Margaret Talev in Seminole, Florida, at mtalev@bloomberg.net; Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Nashua, New Hampshire, at jdavis159@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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