WHITE HOUSE —
President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are campaigning in key states, with public opinion polls showing them virtually even. With both parties' conventions concluded, the two candidates are seeking an advantage in the final two months before the U.S. presidential election.
Obama began a two-day bus tour of the crucial state of Florida Saturday, with a rally near the city of St. Petersburg. "I honestly believe this is the clearest choice of any time in our generation. Because it is a choice, not just between two candidates or two political parties. This is a choice between two fundamentally different paths for America, two fundamentally different visions for our future," he said.
Florida is the fourth most populous of the 50 states, and the largest of the so-called swing states, where experts believe the November 6 election will be decided.
The economy is the main issue in this year's campaign, and Friday's disappointing report on job creation is not likely to help the president's cause.
Obama told supporters in Florida his plan for strengthening the economy and reducing unemployment is superior to Romney's. "All they have got to offer is the same prescriptions that they have had for 30 years: tax cuts, tax cuts, gut a few regulations, some more tax cuts. Tax cuts when times are good, tax cuts when times are bad," he said.
Meanwhile, Romney campaigned Saturday in Virginia, another swing state. At a rally in the city of Virginia Beach, the Republican nominee said the president's economic plan has not worked.
"And then he went to the Democrat convention and spoke at great length and had a lot of wonderful things to say. But he did not say what he would do to help people get jobs, or come out of unemployment, or to get people that are poor back to the middle class. He does not have a plan. He does not have any ideas. And we have got to make sure he does not have any more days in the White House after January," he said.
The area around Virginia Beach is home to a major U.S. Navy installation and thousands of shipbuilding jobs. The former Massachusetts governor told the crowd he would abandon proposals to cut the military budget. “We must have a commitment, not just to more ships and more aircraft, but also, in my view, to more members of our armed forces. I will not cut our military. I will maintain our military commitment," he said.
The president returns to the White House late Sunday, after four planned stops in Florida.
Obama Tuesday will lead observances of the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
In his weekly address Saturday, the president highlighted the progress Americans have made since then. He specifically mentioned the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and the construction of a new skyscraper at the location of the former World Trade Center in New York.