Mitt Romney and Joe Biden tussled for the spotlight in the Bay area Wednesday, holding dueling campaign rallies in the morning.
Romney spoke first at Landmark Aviation in Westshore, but not long after, Biden took the stage in Sarasota at Municipal Auditorium, with both trying to make a good final impression on one of the most crucial areas in the country.
Introduced by the likes of Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush, Romney was steady with his message, focusing on the nation's tough economic time, while also speaking about his success as governor in Massachusetts.
"Taking advantage of energy, No. 1," Romney said, listing his five-point plan for America. "No. 2: Making sure that we have trade that works for us. No. 3: Fixing our education system for adults and young people. No. 4: Balancing the budget. And No. 5: Being a real champion as a nation of small business."
For that to happen, Romney said, change must happen in Washington.
"We made our state a little more business friendly … It has to happen in Washington. We've got to come together," he said.
Romney also wished his condolences to the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the northeast.
Biden did as well -- a focus for him as President Barack Obama spends time with those affected by the storm this week.
Biden spoke in front of more than a thousand people, all chanting "four more years."
To which he responded: "We've got to get through the next six days."
Biden criticized the Romney-Ryan ticket, claiming they flip-flop on issues, and he said Obama is the person to move out country forward for the next four years. Despite the tour and Romney's own expressions of sympathy for storm victims -- a break on the surface from heated campaigning -- a controversy as heated as any in the long, intense struggle for the White House flared over the Republican challenger's new television and radio ads in Ohio.
"Desperation," Vice President Joe Biden said of the broadcast claims that suggested automakers General Motors and Chrysler are adding jobs in China at the expense of workers in the bellwether state. "One of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember."
Republicans were unrepentant as Romney struggled for a breakthrough in the Midwest.
"American taxpayers are on track to lose $25 billion as a result of President Obama's handling of the auto bailout, and GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas," said an emailed statement issued in the name of Republican running mate Paul Ryan.
Biden also poked fun of himself at one point, looking down with a large smile and saying, "I apologize for smiling."
For Mitt Romney, it's a Halloween blitz through Florida. He needs this state in order to win the White House, and two new state polls show he's locked in a virtual tie.
Romney had paused his campaign after the storm, but resumed it Wednesday morning in Tampa. He framed his closing argument on the same goals he's stressed throughout the race. He wants to cut taxes for small business owners and cut spending.
"It's so critical for us to cut federal spending, cap fed spending and get us on the path to a balanced budget," Romney said.
Romney also wants to make it easier for parents to choose the schools their children attend. He wants to expand exploration of fossil fuel-- and expand international trade. He specifically mentioned Latin America.
"Many of our citizens have roots there. We speak the language in many corners of the nation. The time zone is friendly for us," he said.
After his morning stop in Tampa, Romney travelled to Coral Gables, and concluded his day in Florida with an event in Jacksonville.
(Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.)
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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