Mitt Romney’s campaign stopped in the Tampa Bay area Saturday, speaking at a rally at Pasco County’s Land O’Lakes High School. The campaign stop was the last leg of Romney’s three-city Florida swing. This rally featured Romney again challenging the president’s record on the economy, joking that Obama supporters’ chants of “4 more years” should be “10 more days,” a reference to the dwindling number of days left until the election.
VIDEO: Mitt Romney’s rally in Land O’ Lakes
Moments after the crowd of approximately 15,000 supporters began to chant, Romney gleefully pointed out a technicality.
“We’re gonna have to change that chant tomorrow.”
With crowds of over 10,000 meeting the GOP challenger in both Pensacola and Kissimmee on Saturday, Romney’s team was in high spirits coming into the Tampa-area stop. The campaign’s focus on central Florida appears to be paying dividends, with Romney leading Obama, 51% to 45%, in a Saturday poll conducted by Tampa Bay’s local cable news channel, Bay News 9. Romney even made a bold prediction during the Land O’Lakes rally
“(If) we win Florida, we’re going on to win the White House.”
Romney’s campaign stop was originally scheduled to feature an appearance by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), but an accident resulting in serious injury to his oldest daughter, 12 year old Amanda Rubio, prevented him from appearing. Rubio traveled back to Miami upon being informed of the accident while at a rally with Romney in Kissimmee earlier Saturday, according to the Tampa Tribune. Amanda Rubio was last reported in stable condition at Miami Children’s Hospital.
The GOP challenger is running on a platform of regulatory reform, repealing Obamacare, and a pledge to cut taxes. Romney’s speech featured all sort of references to the sacrifice of various Americans, but also contained plenty of shots against the president, including one moment where he called out the Obama campaign’s repeated claims about how the president inherited a bad situation from former President George W. Bush.
“The president likes to say how tough things were that he inherited, how he inherited a tough economy. It was a tough economy, but he doesn’t mention the fact that he also inherited the greatest country in the history of the Earth.”
Those in attendance at the rally passed through layers of security at Land O’ Lakes High School’s football stadium for a chance to see and listen to the Republican candidate. The rally also featured the marching band of Mitchell High School from nearby New Port Richey, considered another Republican stronghold in the Tampa Bay area. The county, which is part of the Tampa Bay region and the must-win “I-4 Corridor,” was carried by Republicans in both 2008 (51.1%) and 2004 (54.1%), but was won by Democrats in 2000 (48.7%), 1996 (49.8%) and 1992 (39.1%).
The use of a public school stadium and public school marching band has drawn criticism from both parents and the Democratic Party, who were denied permission to rent the grounds in order to film a campaign ad for the president. Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink told the Tampa Tribune that Heather Fiorentino, Superintendent of the Pasco County (FL) School District, which is located next to Land O’ Lakes High School, should have thought twice before allowing a political rally on public school property.
“Here we are on the grounds of a public school, and we have seen so many policies coming out of the Romney-Ryan budget that do not support public schools.”