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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama Arrives in Florida, Heads to Krispy Kreme, Before First Rally of the Day

President Barack Obama got a hug from one firefighter in Tampa as he delivered doughnuts to the station early in the morning before a campaign event.Damon Winter/The New York TimesPresident Obama got a hug from one firefighter in Tampa, Fla., as he delivered doughnuts to the station early Thursday morning before a campaign event.

TAMPA, Fla. - A hoarse and sleep-deprived President Obama arrived here on Thursday morning after an all-night, cross-country flight as he blitzed swing states in a round-the-clock effort to reverse his opponent's momentum with time dwindling before the Nov. 6 election.

Mr. Obama opened the second day of his two-day trip with a rally in the warm Florida morning, signaling his determination to contest the large st prize among the tossup states despite Mitt Romney's confidence that Florida is moving into the Republican column. The president hits the other two large swing states, Virginia and Ohio, later in the day and will also stop in Chicago to cast his own ballot early.

This was Mr. Obama's 14th trip to Florida this year and the second this week alone following his debate with Mr. Romney in Boca Raton on Monday night. He plans to return to the state again next Monday, this time with former President Bill Clinton in tow as they visit Orlando. Mr. Romney, who was spending the day in Ohio, has also devoted considerable time and resources to Florida, where polls show he has a slight advantage.

In shirtsleeves, Mr. Obama looked more rested than many of his staff members as he took the stage here - the president has a bed on Air Force One - but his voice was husky after a hectic 24 hours of campaign events. He stopped in Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and California on Wednesday be fore a red-eye flight back east.

Shortly after landing here, he stopped at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop for a little sustenance and then gave his usual “fired up, ready to go” stump speech to a rally of 8,500 at Centennial Park in the Ybor City neighborhood. “Thanks for waking up early,” he told supporters.

With some polls showing his advantage among women slipping, Mr. Obama made sure to emphasize his support for abortion rights in an implicit reference to a Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, who said in an Indiana debate that a pregnancy resulting even from rape was “something that God intended to happen.”

“I don't think any politician in Washington, most of whom are male, should be making health care decisions for women,” Mr. Obama said to applause. “Women can make those decisions themselves.”

Just hours earlier, he had been more explicit in an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on NBC. “Rape is rape,” Mr. Obama said. “It's a crime.” He added, “These various distinctions about rape don't make too much sense to me.”

Mr. Obama planned to fly next to Richmond, Va., trying to hold onto a Southern state he had pulled away from the Republicans for the first time in four decades in 2008, and then he intended to head to his hometown,Chicago, to vote. Aides made much of the fact that he would be the first president ever to cast a ballot early as they tried to encourage supporters to take advantage of early-voting opportunities. Florida opens early voting on Saturday.

He will finish the day with a nighttime rally in Cleveland, making sure to hit Ohio, the state most coveted by both sides as key to an Electoral College victory, before flying home to sleep in the White House.

Follow Peter Baker on Twitter at @peterbakernyt.