YBOR CITY, Fla. – Coming off an “all-nighter” on the campaign trail, President Obama landed before dawn Thursday on Florida’s west coast to start Day 2 of tour aimed at corralling votes and pushing the last few undecided voters off the fence.
At a morning rally, Obama, his voice already hoarse, delivered a direct pitch to women voters and an indirect swipe at an Indiana GOP Senate candidate. As he urged the 8,500 supporters gathered at a fairground to head to the polls, he told them electing a president was about trust.
“When you elect a president, you’re counting on someone you can trust to fight for you, who you can trust to do what they say they’re going to do, who you can trust to make sure that when something unexpected happens he or she is going to be thinking about your family, your future,” Obama said. “Trust matters.”
The event was Obama’s fourth rally on his “48-hour, marathon-extravaganza fly-around” – a cross-country tour that will take him to eight states with a new, closing narrative.
Obama arrived at the Tampa airport in the dark, coming off a red-eye flight from Las Vegas where he drew 13,000 people to a late-night rally. (Obama was helped by pop singer Katy Perry, who warmed up the crowd before the speech by performing in a mini-dress designed to look like a ballot.)
The frantic campaign blitz is aimed at generating a sense of urgency to push voters to the polls early. Obama buzzed through Iowa, Denver and Los Angeles, where he joked with Jay Leno, before Las Vegas event. On Thursday, he’s slated to rally voters in Richmond, Va., cast his ballot in person in Chicago and hold a late rally in Cleveland before heading back to the White House.
To each stop, Obama has been bringing a blunt, boiled-down assessment of his GOP rival: Romney is not to be trusted. Obama ticked through his promises from 2008 and declared each one fulfilled.
On Thursday, he specifically extended the theme to women’s issues, hoping to capitalize on the comments from Senate candidate Richard Mourdock. The Indiana Republican has been explaining his remark that pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen” – an ill-timed comment as both Republicans and Democrats are making the hard sell to moderate women voters.
Keeping the story alive another day, the president weighed in for second time on the matter.
“As we saw again this week, I don’t think any politician in Washington, most of whom are male, should be making healthcare decisions for women,” Obama said to cheers. “Women can make those decisions themselves.”
An Obama advisor said the campaign believes the comment hurts Romney with women voters because “it raises the specter of what a President Romney with a Republican Congress could do around issues of women’s health.”
The president’s first stop in Florida was a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. Obama chatted up the few scattered patrons in the store: “Let the president buy you a jam donut,” he told a young boy, who agreed and asked for two powdered ones.
Obama – a health nut not known as a big doughnut guy – picked up a few dozen and delivered them to a nearby fire station, greeting and thanking the firefighters. One offered to shoot hoops with the president.
“After we’re done,” Obama joked. “I don’t want to embarrass you in front of the cameras.”
There’s no time for impromptu hoops on Obama’s jampacked schedule.
The Romney campaign responded by arguing that Obama has broken promises from his 2008.
“Voters realize that we can’t afford four more years like the last four, and Mitt Romney has laid out real plans to get our country back on track,” said spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.
[For the Record, 9:22 a.m. PST Oct. 25: This post has been updated to include the Romney campaign’s response.]