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Obama renews focus on second-term agenda with release of 20-page booklet

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23 2012 9:10 a.m. MDT

President Barack Obama and Michelle wave to members of the audience following the third presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla.

Associated Press

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DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Launching his closing argument for re-election, President Barack Obama on Tuesday put fresh emphasis on his second-term agenda and cast himself as the candidate who means what he says.

Obama's revamped strategy coming out of the third and final presidential debate came amid criticism from Republican rival Mitt Romney, as well as some Democrats, that he hasn't provided enough specifics about what he would do with another four years in office.

At a raucous campaign rally in Florida, Obama waved a copy of the 20-page booklet his campaign released Tuesday morning, called the "Blueprint for America's Future." He ticked through a series of proposals, all announced previously and mostly focused on the economy, including increased spending on education, boosting manufacturing jobs and raising taxes on the wealthy.

"That's how you build a strong, sustainable economy that has good middle class jobs to offer," Obama said. "Now it's up to you to choose the path we take from here."

The emphasis on a second-term agenda is an acknowledgement from campaign advisers that the president can't simply criticize Romney if he hopes to win over late-breaking undecided voters. He also needs to sell them on what another four years of an Obama presidency would look like.

The broad effort includes new television advertisements, direct mail to voters in battleground states and a sharper emphasis in Obama's campaign speeches on the next four years.

"We're not there yet. But we've made real progress and the last thing we should do is turn back now," Obama says in a new 60-spot released Tuesday morning, hours after the final presidential debate.

The ad is running in nine states: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Two weeks from Election Day, Obama also pressed forward with his attempts to cast Romney as a craven politician willing to shift his positions on everything from the economy to foreign policy, which was the focus of Monday night's debate.

"That is not leadership that you can trust," Obama said. "You can trust that I say what I mean and I mean what I say."

Romney, buoyed by that burst of momentum, has stepped up his criticism of Obama's plans for a second term, accusing the Democrat of failing to say what he would do with four more years. And the Republican's campaign didn't temper its critique following the announcement of Obama's new second-term push.

"The president is just doubling down on the same policies that have led to a stagnant economy, greater government dependency and trillion-dollar deficits," said Amanda Henneberg, a Romney spokeswoman.

Polls show the Republican gained nationally after his strong performance in the first debate on Oct. 3. But Obama advisers insist they maintain an edge in key battleground states, including Ohio, where every Republican has needed to win in order to claim the presidency.

After the rally in Florida, Obama flew to Dayton, Ohio, for a rally with Vice President Joe Biden.

The Democratic campaign says it plans to distribute copies of Obama's plan in battleground states and mail condensed versions of the plan in campaign fliers

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Ken Thomas at http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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