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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In Post-Debate Rally, Obama Says Romney Has \'Stage 3 Romnesia\'

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.-Now the sprint starts.

President Obama blasted out of the gate first thing Tuesday morning, fresh out of his final debate with Mitt Romney, with exactly two weeks to go until Election Day. Appearing at a rally before 11,000 people here in the Florida Sunshine, the president delivered a no-holds-barred assault on Mr. Romney, accusing his G.O.P. rival of changing his positions so many times that he needs Obamacare to cover his pre-existing condition of “Romnesia.”

“Florida,” Mr. Obama said, “You know me. You can trust what I say.”

Mr. Obama went into a robustcritique of Mr. Romney's debate performance, calling it “at least Stage 3 Romnesia.”

“If you say you love American cars in the debate, but you wrote an article called ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,' you might have Romnesia,” Mr. Obama said. “If you can't remember the policies on your Web site or the promises that you've been making over the 6 years you've been running for president, if you can't even remember what you said last week, remember, Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions.”

The president said Americans are used to seeing politicans change their positions from four years ago. “We're not accustomed to seeing politicians change their positions from four days ago.”

Seeking to blunt criticism that he's not been specific about proposals he would pursue in second term, he held up a newly printed brochure of his jobs and education plans, and pronounced that his “math adds up.”

“Compare my plan to Governor Romney's,” Mr. Obama said.

It is perhaps ironic that Mr. Obama began his two-week sprint to the finish line here in Palm Beach County, home of the infamous hanging chads of the Bush/Gore recount showdown in 2000. This year, in Florida the race is again on a razor's edge, and once again, this state is crucial to the hopes of both campaigns, albeit Mr. Romney' s more so than the president. Mr. Romney, who desperately needs Florida to win, has seen his poll numbers in the state improve in recent weeks. Similarly, Mr. Obama has seen his own poll numbersgoing down in Florida.

But Mr. Obama is not giving up on the state yet, and the Democratic get-out-the-vote machine in Florida is already hard at work.

“In Florida, voting is pretty easy. You can vote when its convenient for you and you can start voting this Saturday!” said Palm Beach County Obama campaign official Austin Brookley told the crowd of gathered in an outdoor arena here. “Sign up to volunteer for five hours, ten hours, whatever you got we can use it because Barack Obama deserves nothingless!”
The Obama campaign in Florida even hauled Scott Van Duzer-he of the bear-hugging-the-president-in-his-pizza-parlor fame-to introduce his new best friend. “I'm a Republican but hold it right there,” the ebullient Mr. Van Duzer told the about-to-start-booei ng crowd. “I voted for him four years ago and I'm voting for him again!” The boos changed to cheers.

He delivered a full-throatedintroduction, and by the time Mr. Obama jogged on stage, the two were hugging and grinning and backpatting in a lavishing display of man-love. “Every time I need a pick-me-up, I try to see Scott,” Mr. Obama said, in a reference to Mr. Van Duzer's bear hug last month during which he picked up Mr. Obama when the president visited his pizza parlor, despite the alarmed looks of the attendant Secret Service agents.

After Florida, Mr. Obama headed to Dayton, Ohio, stop two of his marathon swing state swing this week. He will also be doing appearances in Davenport, Iowa, Denver, Las Vegas, and then back to Florida when he hits Tampa on Thursday, then Richmond, Va., and then Cleveland.

And that only gets him to Thursday night.

Follow Helene Cooper on Twitter at @helenecooper.