President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney squeezed in one last burst of campaigning before taking the weekend to prepare for their final debate next week in Florida.
In an appearance yesterday at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, Obama coined a new term -- “Romnesia” -- to describe what he said are Romney’s changes in positions.
“If you come down with a case of Romnesia and you can’t seem to remember the policies that are still on your website or the promises that you’ve made over the six years that you’ve been running for president, here’s the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions,” Obama, 51, said in a reference to the health-care law enacted in 2010.
Romney responded at a rally last night in Daytona Beach, Florida, by accusing the president of lacking an agenda.
“They have been reduced to petty attacks and silly word games,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
Romney, 65, was joined by his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, at the rally in Florida, one of the closely contested states that will help determine the outcome of the Nov. 6 election.
The campaign event, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and a strip of high-rise hotels with ground-floor bars, had about 8,500 of Romney’s political faithful rubbing elbows with a Friday night crowd that included attendees from a nearby biker’s convention.
Romney was greeted in Florida with the endorsement of the Orlando Sentinel, which supported Obama four years ago. Another major Florida newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times, endorsed the president as did the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah.
A CNN/ORC poll released yesterday showed a virtual tie in Florida, the biggest electoral prize among the states both campaigns view as the most competitive. The survey shows Romney backed by 49 percent and Obama by 48 percent, a difference within the poll’s error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
“Polls had suggested that Obama was holding a small but steady lead in Florida,” said Brian Crowley, a former political reporter in the state and now a principal at Immediacy Public Relations in North Palm Beach. “That appears to be no longer true.”
Romney’s campaign may have “a real shot at winning Florida,” Crowley said. “Many of the Florida’s undecided voters were frustrated by Obama’s first debate and found little reason to give him a second look after the last debate.”
Of four campaign rallies Obama has held this week, three have been on college campuses as he seeks to reignite the enthusiasm he sparked among young voters in 2008.
Yesterday, Obama again emphasized his commitment to women’s issues. He said Romney wants to take the nation backward and has policies “more suited” to the 1950s.
“We’re in the 21st century,” Obama said, adding that women deserve “equal pay for equal work.”
Obama carried Virginia in 2008, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate had won there since 1964. Polls indicate this year’s contest for the state’s 13 electoral votes is close.
Before the Oct. 22 debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, Obama will spend the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, while Romney will encamp in Delray Beach, Florida. The final face-off between the candidates will focus on foreign policy.