July 19th, 2012
09:01 PM ET
JACKSONVILLE (CNN)–Florida is an up-for-grabs state and both President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney are locked in a neck and neck race trying to convince voters their policies will help fix the nation's economic problems.
Thursday, the president made his fourth campaign stop in the last month to the state that represents a whopping 29 electoral votes.
In the reliably Republican city of Jacksonville, the president offered his supporters a reason to stick with him then cast a wider net by going after his opponent on an issue that resonates with senior voters–Medicare.
"He plans to turn Medicare into a voucher program," the president told a crowd of some 3000 people at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. "Now, Florida, that's the wrong way to go... We shouldn't be squeezing more money out of seniors who are just barely getting by right now. My plan is to squeeze more money out of the health care system by eliminating waste, and going after abuse and fraud in Medicare."
Senior citizens make up 18 percent of Florida's population.
The Obama re-election campaign says the president's policies will strengthen Medicare, a view not shared by his opponent.
The president is also using the bully pulpit that comes with his office to woo voters here. Just before Mr. Obama landed, his administration announced it is expediting infrastructure projects to modernize major ports including one in Jacksonville.
In addition Obama surrogates are also in the state this week: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar toured a national wildlife sanctuary and Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak at a police convention this weekend.
On this two day swing through Florida, the president has his eyes not only on seniors but other key voting blocks such as Jewish voters, military veterans and Hispanics, a group which accounts for 13 percent of Florida's registered voters.
In a Spanish language radio interview Thursday, Mr. Obama touted his accomplishments, talked immigration reform and asked for their votes saying, "Hopefully I'll earn my second term because I've got the strong support of people like you."
President Obama won Florida over Sen. John McCain by 3 points in 2008. He is trying to hang on to this crucial battleground state in a competitive race and a tough economic environment.
The unemployment rate is higher than the national average in Florida at 8.6%. Foreclosures are up 23 percent so far this year compared to 2011 according to Realty Trac Inc. which also ranks Florida as having the fifth highest foreclosure rate in the country.
"There are no easy fixes, no quick solutions to the challenges we face, but there is no doubt in my mind that we have the capacity to meet them and we will meet them," Mr. Obama told the enthusiastic crowd in Jacksonville.
The president isn't only in the sunshine state to drum up votes, he is also collecting cash. Fundraisers are expected to raise three quarters of a million dollars.
Add to that a big star, deep pocket donation from A-list actor Morgan Freeman who gave one million dollars to Priorities USA, the super pac supporting the president.
The president ended his day in Florida in West Palm Beach where he spoke to senior citizens at a retirement community with a heavy population of registered Democratic voters.
Mr. Obama speaks at two more campaign events Friday in Ft. Myers and Orlando before returning to Washington.