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In Florida, Obama trades criticisms with Romney over Medicare

By KEN THOMAS and STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press Modified: July 19, 2012 at 10:48 pm •  Published: July 20, 2012

During stops in Jacksonville and in West Palm Beach, Obama jumped on Romney's opposition to his health care reform law, which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court. He said the former Massachusetts governor's approach would force more than 200,000 Floridians pay more for their prescription drugs.

“It's wrong to ask you to pay more for Medicare so that people who are doing well right now get even more,” Obama told seniors at Century Village. “That's no way to reduce the deficit. We shouldn't be squeezing more money out of seniors.”

For Obama, who has frequently struggled to build support among elderly voters, the health care pitch was directed at retirees in Florida, home to the all-important prize of 29 electoral votes. Even in winning here in 2008, Obama lost to John McCain among voters 65 and older.

Back in Massachusetts, Romney again criticized Obama for not having met with his advisory jobs council in six months while holding more than 100 fundraisers in that time. White House spokesman Jay Carney had said Wednesday that the president gets advice from the council all the time but also has “got a lot on his plate.”

“I think you've learned something about the president's priorities,” Romney said. “The job he's interested in protecting is his own.”

The White House sought to counter that line of attack by showing presidential action. Obama's administration announced it was speeding up expansion projects at five major U.S. ports, including two in politically important Florida. Carney made a point to note that the idea came from Obama's jobs council.

In speaking to a largely Jewish audience in West Palm Beach, Obama said the nation was “heartbroken” over the terrorist attack launched against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria and said his administration hadn't “just preserved the unbreakable bond with Israel, we have strengthened it.”

During the day, Obama held two private fundraisers to help his re-election campaign, raising about $750,000 from a small number of donors in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach.

As Obama stuck to his economic message, his campaign kept up its aggressive attempt to raise doubts about Romney's trustworthiness. Obama and his surrogates have been pushing Romney to release more than two years of tax returns. Some members of Romney's party have agreed, although others say the idea is a distraction.

“We've given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life,” Romney's wife, Ann, told ABC News in an interview broadcast Thursday.

In a separate interview aired Thursday on WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio, Romney said one reason not to release more of his returns was that “the Democratic Party and the opposition has all these people that comb through and try and find anything they can to distract from the issues people care about, oftentimes in a dishonest way.”

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