KISSIMMEE, Fla. — During a Saturday swing through the crucial battleground of Florida, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney drove home the notion that he will bring a level of bipartisanship to Washington that he says has been missing under President Obama.
Campaigning alongside Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Connie Mack, Mr. Romney mixed his message of bipartisanship with attacks against Mr. Obama, saying the Democrat has “shrunk” from the nation’s most pressing problems and from the promises he touted on the campaign trail in 2008.
“He promised that his would be a post-partisan presidency, but we have watched him over the last four years, and he has been divisive and demonized almost any group that opposed him,” Mr. Romney said, adding that he and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan are poised to “reach across the aisle” to ensure that they can simplify the tax code, reduce the regulations on business, and to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”
“We have to build bridges with the other party. This is not a time for America to pull back and divide and demonize. It is a time for us in American to come together and find common ground,” Mr. Romney said.
Riding some momentum out of his series of debates with Mr. Obama, the former Massachusetts governor has put a renewed focus recently on moderating his message and casting himself as more of a bipartisan figure as he looks to reach out to women and independents voters.
Mr. Romney told crowds Saturday that he worked with Democrats as governor of Massachusetts to reduce spending, cut taxes and turn a projected $3 billion budget shortfall into a $2 billion surplus.
“We could have just fought, but instead we came together and found places to work together,” Mr. Romney said.
The three scheduled stops here came with just 10 days left before the Nov. 6 election and coincided with the state’s first day of in-person early voting, which both campaigns say is key to maximizing voter turnout.
“Today is the first day of early voting,” Mr. Mack told the crowd at a stop in Pensacola. “I need you to leave here and go vote.”
The presidential candidate shared the stage with Mr. Mack and Mr. Rubio, who each warmed up the crowds of supporters for Mr. Romney with harsh critiques of Mr. Obama’s first term to the delight of the thousands that turned out at each campaign event.
Mr. Rubio assailed the Democrat for embracing “the ideas of countries that people come here to get away from” and mocked the 20-page booklet that Mr. Obama started touting on the campaign trail, which lays out his second term agenda.
“He just put out a picture book that he calls his plan for the next four years,” Mr. Rubio told the 10,000 people packed into the Pensacola Civic Center. “Unfortunately, there is nothing really innovative in that picture book.”
The latest Real Clear Politics average of polls shows that Mr. Romney is leading by almost 2 points in Florida, which Mr. Obama carried in 2008 on his way to winning the White House.
The Romney camp announced Saturday that it had scrapped plans to travel to Virginia because of Hurricane Sandy. He will instead travel to Ohio, where he will link up with Mr. Ryan for three stops where they will hope to cut into Mr. Obama’s 2-point edge.
It also gleefully blasted out the news that the influential Des Moines Register endorsed Mr. Romney four years after backing Mr. Obama. It marked the first time in 40 years that Iowa’s biggest newspaper had backed a Republican candidate for president. And the editorial board also played up Mr. Romney’s potential for compromise.
“Our discussion repeatedly circled back to the nation’s single most important challenge: pulling the economy out of the doldrums, getting more Americans back in the workforce in meaningful jobs with promising futures, and getting the federal government on a track to balance the budget in a bipartisan manner that the country demands,” the editorial board wrote. “Which candidate could forge the compromises in Congress to achieve these goals? When the question is framed in those terms, Mitt Romney emerges the stronger candidate.”
“The best way to put it is, in Florida, I would rather be us than them,” he said, pointing out that he has not met a single person who voted for Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race that is voting for Mr. Obama. But he has met plenty of people who voted for Mr. Obama and now are going to vote for Mr. Romney.
“People are hurting in Florida,” he said. “People have seen their houses decline in value, they lost their business, they are working twice as hard and making half as much, and they rightfully blame this president and his administration over the last four years for many of the policies that are holding our economy back.”
President Obama was campaigning Saturday in New Hampshire.