Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, right, and his running… (Evan Vucci / Associated…)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- With a new poll showing a neck-and-neck race between Mitt Romney and President Obama here in Florida, the Republican nominee rallied a crowd of thousands at the edge of Daytona Beach on Friday night and promised to replace the president in the White House “in 18 days.”
Alluding to Obama’s new effort to cast Romney's shifting positions as “Romnesia,” the Republican said the Obama campaign had been “reduced to petty attacks and silly word games.”
“It’s absolutely remarkable,” Romney said after taking the stage with his running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, in front of an enormous illuminated castle draped with campaign banners. “They have no agenda for the future, no agenda for America, no agenda for a second term.”
Romney called Obama’s effort the “incredible shrinking campaign.”
“This is a big country with big opportunities and great challenges, and they keep talking about smaller and smaller things,” he said.
“We have big ideas, bold ideas, a strong agenda. We are going to get America working again, and that’s why you’re going to help elect the two of us. We can endure 18 more days, but we cannot endorse four more years, and that’s why we are going to replace him in 18 days.”
The late evening rally in Daytona Beach, which was packed with motorcyclists who were in town for “Biketoberfest,” was Romney’s fourth event of the week. He spent the morning in New York preparing for Monday’s third and final presidential debate, a gathering in Boca Raton, Fla., that will focus on foreign policy. His arrival in Florida coincided with a CNN poll showing him with a one-point lead over Obama--essentially a tie--in the state.
Ryan, the Wisconsin congressmen, gave a shout-out at the rally to all the “Milwaukee-made Harleys running all around town here.”
“We know how to build things in America. We know how to create jobs in America,” Ryan said.
Romney traveled to Florida with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, his debate stand-in for Obama, as well as top strategists Beth Myers and Stuart Stevens and foreign policy advisors Dan Senor and Alex Wong. The Republican candidate, who has little experience in the foreign policy arena, plans to spend the weekend studying for the debate.