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Obama: Romney is out of touch (+video)

With less than seven weeks until the election, the race for president is neck and neck. Both President Obama and his rival Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spent time in the battleground state of Florida on Thursday.

By StaffAssociated Press / September 20, 2012

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign fundraising event in Sarasota, Fla., Thursday.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

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MIAMI

President Barack Obama cast Mitt Romney on Thursday as an out-of-touch challenger for the White House, while the Republican countered that the U.S. economy "is bumping along the bottom" under the current administration.

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President Barack Obama said rival Mitt Romney hasn't "gotten around a lot" if he believes that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves victims and entitled to government help.

The two men crisscrossed hotly contested Florida, their travel plans nearly overlapping in Miami. Florida is one of a handful of battleground states with large Hispanic populations that are expected to decide the close race for the White House. The president is not chosen by a nationwide popular vote but in state-by-state contests, making these states especially important.

Romney worked to move past the furor over a video showing him telling donors last May that nearly half of Americans see themselves as victims entitled to government handouts, and that as a candidate, his job wasn't to worry about them.

But Obama made his most extensive comments to date on the subject, seizing the chance to make the most of a controversy that has knocked his rival off stride.

"When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven't gotten around a lot," the president said at a town hall-style forum aired by the Spanish-language television network Univision.

Seeking to change the subject, Romney disclosed plans for a three-day bus tour early next week through Ohio — another important battleground — with running mate Paul Ryan and sought to return the campaign focus to the economic issues that have dominated the race all year.

Less than seven weeks before Election Day, polls make the race a close one, likely to be settled in eight or so swing states where neither man has a solid edge. Obama has gained ground in polls in some of those states since the completion of the Democratic National Convention two weeks ago, while Romney has struggled with controversies of his own making that have left Republicans frustrated at his performance as a candidate.

At a fundraiser in Sarasota, Romney looked ahead to his televised debates with Obama this fall.

"He's a very eloquent speaker, and so I'm sure in the debates, as last time ... he'll be very eloquent in describing his vision," the Republican said. "But he can't win by his words, because his record speaks so loudly in our ears. What he has done in the last four years is establish an economy that's bumping along the bottom."

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