Romney makes final Florida stop — promising to “represent one nation”by John Kennedy | November 5th, 2012
Mitt Romney made his final campaign stop in Florida before a crowd of 4,000 supporters Monday in an airline hangar at Orlando-Sanford International Airport, saying his victory would give Americans a new sense of governing.
“I’ll bring people together,” Romney told those gathered. “I’ll not just represent one party. I’ll represent one nation.”
Romney spoke after a gallery of Florida leaders warmed-up the crowd, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Rick Scott. A request echoed through all the speakers — that supporters should call at least 10 friends and urge them to vote for Romney in the toss-up election.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” Bush said.
The Sanford stop is Romney’s last in the nation’s biggest swing state, where polls show the Republican with a slight lead over Barack Obama. The president campaigned Sunday in Florida, but was sending first lady Michelle Obama to Orlando on Monday for a final pre-Election Day rally at a city park.
Speaking in a heavily Republican county in Florida’s critical Interstate-4 corridor, Romney said he was ready for the Oval Office.
“Tomorrow, on Nov. 6, we come together for a brighter future and on Nov. 7, we’ll get to work,” Romney said.
He also managed to get in a few digs aimed at his opponent.
“The president said he’s found he can’t change Washington from the inside, only from the outside,” Romney said. “We’re going to give him that chance.”
After the Florida stop, Romney was scheduled to campaign in Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia — all battleground states he is likely in need of nailing-down to reach the 270 electoral votes to capture the White House. Romney’s decision to make his final Floridal stop in the I-4 corridor — seen as a critical swing region of the state — was a smart tactic, said Florida Republican Chairman Lenny Curry.
“I-4 corridor. It’s all about you, baby,” Curry said, in revving up the early morning crowd.
Stu Stevens, Romney’s campaign strategist, said he was confident of winning Florida. But overall, he was cautious.
“Every race comes down to turnout — and message,” Stevens said.
As he has been in late-hour appearances, Romney gave an impression of confidence Monday — casting a stark contrast between the past four years and what he would bring to the White House. Romney promised an economic turnaround with his election and appealed to voters in a state with an unemployment rate still topping the national average.
“If you’re tired of being tired, I ask you to vote for us,” Romney said.
The crowd responded to Romney at times with chants of “one more day.”
Among the supporters gathered, Romney’s economic theme resonated.
“I’m usually a non-partisan voter but I became a Republican to vote for Herman Cain in the primary,” said Greg Baker, 65, a painting contractor from nearby Lake County. “I became a Romney guy. I just think he’s going to take our economy, and American in a better direction.”
Sally Mesko, 43, of Winter Garden, owns a sports bar and restaurant franchise that she said has not bounced back from the recession. She said the economic downturn continues to be felt among her friends and neighbors — and that hurts the restaurant business.
“When people cut back, they cut back on going out to eat,” she said.
Mesko blames Obama.
“Our last four years have been horrible,” she said. “It’s scary.”
Making his last pitch to Florida voters, Romney continued to promote themes he’s polished in recent weeks. He cast himself as a centrist candidate eager to help the middle class and attempted to use Obama’s signature ‘change’ approach against him.
“Do you want four more years like the last four years, or do you want real change — finally?” Romney told the crowd.