(CNN) – Gearing up for a heated battle in the Sunshine state, top Obama surrogates tried to draw a stark contrast between the President and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney Wednesday.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Obama campaign press secretary, Ben LaBolt, said the campaign won’t be “ceding any ground to the Republicans,” particularly noting two Florida counties the President lost badly during the 2008 election - Lee and Collier.
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"We have no expectation that either candidate will get to the point of 10 points up or down," LaBolt said in a conference call to reporters Wednesday. "We think this will be close and competitive right up until the election and that's why we're building the largest grass roots campaign in history."
“Florida is always a close state and we don’t expect that to change,” said LaBolt added, highlighting demographics where the campaign perceives an Obama advantage – Hispanics, seniors (a reliable portion of the electorate) and the youth vote.
The campaign said it is a matter of turn out, not persuasion among young voters, hoping to draw support from voters who were too young to cast a ballot for Obama during the past election when the candidate garnered outsized support the younger demographic.
Wasserman and LaBolt also drew a line between the two candidates on issues like Medicare for seniors, immigration and the economy.
“The question facing Floridians voters will be the same question facing voters around the country," said LaBolt. "Do you believe that we need to take action today to restore economic security for the middle class? And do you think the path to doing that is making investments specifically targeted to the middle class like education and research and development and infrastructure and clean energy? And if you agree with that you are going to vote for the president. If tax cuts for the wealthiest are the path to doing that you’re going to vote for Mitt Romney."
After the President’s call earlier this month to extend the Bush era tax cuts for middle-income families, the Romney campaign responded with this statement, also highlighting the dueling campaign’s different economic plans:
“The President’s latest bad idea is to raise taxes on families, job creators, and small businesses. Almost half a million fewer Americans are working today than the day Barack Obama took office, and we’ve just come through the worst job creation quarter in two years. Unlike President Obama, Governor Romney understands that the last thing we need to do in this economy is raise taxes on anyone. He has a plan to permanently lower marginal rates, help middle-class Americans save and invest, and jumpstart economic growth and job creation,” wrote Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul.
The top Obama surrogates also addressed the Romney campaign’s latest refrain, using remarks from Obama’s Virginia speech last week to paint the incumbent as supporting government dependence and failing to give credit to successful businesses.
LaBolt said Romney is using the president’s “if you've got a business – you didn't build that” remark to change the conversation from his economic record.
“I think that what Mitt Romney has done is taken the President's words out of context to change the subject from questions that are coming into his campaign about whether or not he was responsible for the outsourcing of American jobs or bankrupting companies by ripping the President's remarks out of context,” said LaBolt, pointing to Obama’s message that there is more the government can do to support business environment.
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