President Barack Obama vies for health care edge in Florida

By Thomas Beaumont

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Sept. 9 2012 1:51 p.m. MDT

"I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it," Romney said. "I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it."

With an eye toward undecided voters dismayed by the lackluster recovery, Romney and Ryan faulted Obama for failing to provide the tax relief they say holds the key to the creation of millions of jobs. Romney has pledged to lower tax rates for by 20 percent for all Americans — including the wealthy.

Romney has said he'll pay for those cuts by eliminating loopholes and deductions for higher-income earners. But both Republicans were unyielding in saying that the specifics would come only after the election.

"Mitt Romney and I, based on our experience, think the best way to do this is to show the framework, show the outlines of these plans, and then to work with Congress to do this," Ryan said on ABC's "This Week."

Drawing attention to his opponents' reticence, Obama shot back hours later, saying Ryan and Romney deserve a failing math grade instead of accolades for bold leadership.

"It was like two plus one equals five," Obama said, prompting incredulous chuckles from the crowd in Florida.

For Obama, Florida presents a convergence of issues. Even as Obama sought to touch a nerve on health care, Romney's campaign was trying to stoke anti-Obama sentiments among the state's numerous Jewish voters and donors by drawing attention to the flap at the Democratic National Convention over whether Jerusalem should remain the capital of Israel.

White House press secretary Jay Carney sought to distinguish between what Obama has said is his personal view that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of Israel, and longstanding U.S. foreign policy which states that the status of Jerusalem should be part of final negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Also on the minds of some Florida residents was the future of the U.S. space program. Greeting Obama as he arrived at his rally in Melbourne were a knot of protesters holding anti-Obama signs, including one that read, "Obama lied. Space Coast died."

Melbourne, home of the Kennedy Space Center and the Florida Institute of Technology, has been hard hit by cutbacks in the space program. Obama's campaign cast blamed on President George W. Bush and House Republicans, while Obama said his proposals to put the U.S. on the cutting edge of space exploration would inspire the next generation.

Associated Press writers Matthew Daly in Chillicothe, Ohio, and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed.

Follow Jim Kuhnhenn at http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn

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