President Obama and Mitt Romney on Saturday moved into battleground states where they are trying to convince must-needed voters each has a better plan to rescue Medicare and create more and better jobs – following a poor August unemployment report.
President Obama made his pitch at a college in St. Petersburg, Fla., -- amid students concerned about finding jobs and seniors in the retirement mecca concerned about Medicare.
Romney first words upon taking the stage in Virginia Beach were directed at the jobs report.
“This was a week of not a lot of good news,” he told a crowd full of veterans at the Military Aviation Museum. “But I’m here to tell you things are going to get better by electing me as the next president.”
Though Obama never addressed the report, he said Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan's plans to fix the economy "don't add up to jobs."
The president also said he wouldn't "turn Medicare into a voucher system," an attack on the Romney-Ryan plan in which future Medicare recipients can use a private insurer, drawing a loud applause for the estimated 11,000 people at the event at St. Petersburg College-Seminole Campus.
He also argued his economic recovery efforts have created a half-million more manufacturing jobs and vowed that future efforts would further increase that number as well create more employment opportunities for math and science teachers.
The president also mocked Romney's $5 trillion tax cut plan to help the economy.
"Tax cuts when times are good; tax cuts when times are bad," he said. "Tax cuts to help you lose a few pounds. Tax cuts to improve your love life. Whatever the issue, they've got one answer."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday the national unemployment rate in August dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, but the decrease was largely because Americans stopped looking for work.
The report also stated U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs last month, but that number was less than what Obama and others would have liked.
In a speech that appeared crafted for the military crowd, Romney vowed not to cut the military, saying he would instead rebuild the Air Force and Navy, promising new ships.
He also repeated his five-point plan to revive the economy and create more jobs that includes more skills training for Americans and low taxes on smaller businesses “where jobs come from.”
Romney said the president “went to the convention and said a lot of wonderful thing but he didn’t say what he would do to create jobs.”
“This is not something I study,” he said. “This is something I did for 25 years.”
Romney was scheduled to attend a NASCAR race in Richmond later in the day.
Though political analysts have dissected several so-called "paths to victory," all essentially show either candidate cannot lose both Virginia and Florida, which has 29 electoral votes.
Romney senior campaign adviser Kevin Madden said before the Virginia Beach event that middle-class voters are among the hardest hit by the "Obama economy," and that many, particularly those with jobs in the defense industry, are anxious.
"They don't see the sort of job creation they think that we need to see," he told reporters. "And I think they represent a pretty unique opportunity for us to win the state. It's going to be a very close race in Virginia, I'd expect all the way through."