President Obama on Thursday took a jab at Mitt Romney's ideological shift to the center, noting to a crowd at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, that his Republican rival once referred to himself as "severely conservative."
Now, Mr. Obama said to the crowd of students, "Mitt Romney's trying to convince you he was severely kidding."
"These days Mitt Romney's for whatever you're for," he continued. "Suddenly he loves the middle class, can't stop talking about it. He loves Medicare, he loves teachers. He even loves the most important parts of Obamacare."
The president mocked Romney for, as he did in the first presidential debate, denying that his agenda would cut taxes by $5 trillion. He also ribbed the Republican candidate for suggesting he'd keep parts of the Affordable Care Act, such as the provision allowing people under 26 years old to stay on their parents' health care plans. On NBC's "Meet the Press" in September, Romney said he would "assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like."
Mr. Obama joked, "Kicking 200,000 young Floridians off their parents' insurance plans? Who me?"
Students are one of the key voting blocs Mr. Obama will have to turn out in Florida starting October 27, when early voting starts. The latest poll out of the Sunshine State, conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, shows Mr. Obama leading by just one point, 48 percent to 47 percent.
Mr. Obama tailored the rest of his stump speech to Florida, appealing to his supporters to turn out to the polls as they did in 2008.
"You are the reason Florida seniors are saving an average of $600 on prescription drugs," he said. "You're the reason there's a working family from Hollywood able to save their family from foreclosure."
He also warned the college audience against the theory of stimulating the economy through tax cuts. "That may not sound familiar to some of you guys because you're young," he said, noting that Republicans used the argument when they passed the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
"That's how we went from surplus to deficit," he said. "We have heard this plan before, it doesn't work."