August 2nd, 2012
04:49 PM ET
Winter Park, Florida (CNN) –- Buoyed by a recent poll indicating a 6-point lead in the crucial swing state of Florida, President Obama addressed an enthusiastic crowd in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park while making a particular birthday request only two days before he turns 51.
“Winning Florida wouldn't be a bad birthday present,” he declared, joking that when he blows out candles on his cake, “my wish will have something to do with electoral votes.”
The semi-serious remarks followed a “Happy Birthday” serenade from the crowd of approximately 2,500 supporters in a packed gymnasium at Rollins College, just outside of Orlando, in what is one of the most closely fought-over counties in the battleground state.
But the president also added new fire to his arsenal, touting a recent report from the non-partisan Tax Policy Institute that claims rival Mitt Romney’s tax proposals are likely to result in a net tax increase of $2,000 for middle-class wage earners.
“He's asking you to pay more so people like him can pay less,” Obama told the crowd. They have tried to sell us this trickle down fairy dust before. And guest what, it won't work...it takes us back to a place we don't need to be.”
The Romney campaign has taken issue with that study, noting one of its authors used to work in the Obama administration while another author has expressed support in the past for the president’s tax policies.
But Obama responded in kind Thursday, saying that the organization that sponsored the study is headed by a former Bush administration economist. He also beat back the Romney campaign’s contention that the study did not adequately account for the possibility of a robust economic recovery.
“Then [the Romney Campaign] said the study failed to fully take into account the massive economic boom that would cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations because we all know how well that worked the last time we tried it,” Obama said.
The speech, called a “grassroots rally” by the campaign, comes on the heals of a recently released Quinnipiac University poll indicating the president holds a 51-45% lead in Florida, a state that is considered especially crucial to Romney’s presidential chances.
The Romney campaign made a concerted effort to counter the president’s message in Florida Thursday, deploying Sen. Marco Rubio, among the state’s more popular politicians and a potential vice presidential pick, to hold a counter rally just miles away. There, Rubio declared Obama to be “a historic disaster”
Obama will follow his appearance in Florida with a stop in Virginia Thursday evening, another crucial swing state that recent polls suggest is near dead even between Romney and Obama.