Candidates Descend on Crucial Florida in Final Weeks

Vice president Joe Biden gestures during a campaign speech to a group of senior citizen voters, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 , in Sun City Center, Fla. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. is at center. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)


By Aaron Hepker

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — Both vice presidential candidates made stops around the crucial election state of Florida on Friday, trying to shore up support from the party faithful and sway undecided voters in the campaign's final weeks.

At a rally at a school in Fort Pierce, Vice President Joe Biden told a raucous crowd of around 1,200 people his Republican opposition is out of touch with the middle class and sought to portray Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan as unwilling to divulge the full details of their economic plans.

"It's not just his Swiss bank accounts and his accounts in the Grand Cayman Islands, this man's out of touch," Biden said of Romney.

He equated Republican plans for Medicare to sending seniors "a coupon in the mail" and said their economic policies would help the super rich.

"To sign a pledge to Grover Norquist, they should be signing a pledge to you, to the middle class," Biden said. "They should be signing a pledge that says we're going to level the playing field. That's the pledge we sign."

Meantime, vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan attended a round table discussion at University of South Florida's Center for Entrepreneurship in Tampa to talk about the economy and jobs.

Before about 200 guests and media, Ryan listened intensely to the 10 local participants, several of whom run successful research businesses in conjunction with the university. Participants said there is little seed money available to commercialize the products once developed and asked Ryan how he and Romney would help.

The single "solution is growth," Ryan asserted. "There's no magic bullet. We have to restructure the top effective tax rate, eliminate lots of red tape and enable small banks to compete fairly with big banks."

Both the current administration and the Romney-Ryan ticket have promised to improve the innovation climate.

Biden earlier visited the west Florida senior citizen enclave of Sun City Center, where about 1,150 people heard him hammer Romney on his remarks about women's issues during the recent presidential debate.

"They do not believe that women have the right to control their own bodies," Biden said. "The president and I are absolutely, positively committed that my daughter and the president's daughters have every single opportunity to control their lives as my son and grandsons. It was made very clear that (Romney and Ryan) do not share that view."

Ryan was due at a fundraiser in Palm Beach County before joining Romney at a rally in Daytona Beach on Friday night. First lady Michelle Obama and Romney's wife, Ann, also planned visits to Florida ahead of the final debate Monday at Lynn University in Boca Raton.

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