Rahm Emanuel visits Tampa to fire up the Obama troops

On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney has hit President Obama hard for not presenting a future agenda for the American public, but instead being reduced to using words like "Romneysia" to criticize his opponent. Mainstream media pundits have said the same.

CL asked Emanuel, the chief-of-staff for Obama for the first two years of the president's administration, if that was a fair criticism. Not surprisingly, the mayor disagreed.

"First of all, there are choices in an election, and I do think that the president has put together exactly the right set of policies based on the middle class (to succeed)," he said.

Emanuel said the policies include: the ability to own a home, to afford health care, to save for retirement, to save for children's college costs, and to get job training skills if needed to move up the economic ladder.

The mayor got specific, saying that tax reform will be a job for the next president, and he'd rather it be the Democratic candidate.

"Having been in a White House and help create the Hope and Life Time learning Credits be tax deductions for the middle class. Do those survive? Or is it tax breaks for the Cayman Islands and Switzerland bank accounts to survive? Because you can't have both ... I'm for the clear choices, and I will say the president's choices have been clear ..."

Emanuel spoke to a group of about 25 volunteers jammed into the Temple Terrace campaign office in what was billed as a pep talk, though there were only a couple of volunteers who appeared to be making phone calls shortly before the Chicago mayor's appearance.

"If Florida is ground zero, Tampa is the center of ground zero," he said to the group. "If you think you made your last phone call, you've got 10 more. If you think you've knocked on your last door, you've got 10 more. Never give in, never give up."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn joked that when he travels to conferences with other mayors, they thank him for accepting federal funds originally earmarked for a high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa that Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected in 2010.

Mayor Emanuel will be the last person to make such a remark.

"And you here in Tampa would have been the recipient of that investment, had you kept your high-speed rail ... I'll just tell you this right now. Our senator and our secretary of transportation just took high-speed rail from Chicago ... from Juliet to Normal (Illinois). So I came down here to thank you for not taking your money," he said to laughs.

Emanuel was seen earlier in the day at Tre Amichi in Ybor City, and he'll speak to the Jewish community in an event in South Florida on Sunday. He said he will travel next weekend to the very critical battleground state of Ohio, and will make phone calls to get out the vote in the last weekend before the election.

  • Rahm Emanuel in Tampa on Saturday

In a New York Times' blog post, author Nate Silver speculates that recent gains by Mitt Romney might necessitate the Obama administration to withdraw from competing in the Sunshine State, but Chicago Mayor and Obama supporter Rahm Emanuel said nothing doing on that front.

"Based on the president and the vice-president's schedule, I think you can indicate that's the advice the campaign's taking," Emanuel told a group reporters from both Chicago and Tampa at an Obama campaign office just blocks from the University of South Florida campus. "They see the fight for Florida as like the rest of the campaign ... between the president and Gov. Romney in the sense of who's going to fight for the middle class and who's not going to hear their voices in the Oval Office."

Emanuel is right. Shortly before Silver's post went up, the Obama campaign announced that in addition to the president's previously scheduled appearance next Tuesday in Delray Beach, he will also be flying into Tampa for an, as of yet, unscheduled Thursday appearance.

While most recent polls have Romney leading in Florida, the average is only by 2 percentage points according to Real Clear Politics. A SurveyUSA poll out on Saturday has Obama up by one point.

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