With less than a week before the 2012 presidential election, the candidates are making their final push for votes in South Florida beginning with a rally with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Miami Wednesday.
Romney appeared at a victory rally at the University of Miami's BankUnited Center with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Congressman Connie Mack.
Romney began his remarks by asking supporters to send a dollar or two to the Red Cross for superstorm Sandy victims if they can.
He sought to reassure young people concerned about finding jobs.
"But let me tell ya – the future is bright. This country is unlike any other in the world. We’re an entrepreneurial, innovative, creative, dynamic, people," Romney said. "Immigrants come here from all over the world with skill and ambition and a desire, as Marco said, for a brighter future for their children than even they’ve enjoyed. And that spirit of optimism and hope propels our economy, and that in turn gives us a brighter future for our kids, and of course builds a military second to none in the world. These things all work together. And I’m confident that what drives America is the character and heart of the American people.”
It's Romney's first major campaign event following Sandy. He attended a "relief event" in Ohio Tuesday that was focused more on collecting supplies for victims of the storm.
The Republican nominee came under withering criticism over his depiction of President Barack Obama's 2009 auto industry bailout Wednesday, as Vice President Joe Biden accused him of perpetuating an "outrageous lie" in an advertising campaign.
The ads assert that General Motors and Chrysler are adding jobs in China at the expense of workers in Ohio. Both companies have protested them.
"They're trying to scare the living devil out of a group of people who have been hurt so badly over the last previous four years before we came to office," Biden told voters in Sarasota, labeling the Romney commercials "one of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember in my political career."
Countering Biden, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said in a statement released by Romney's campaign: "GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas. These are facts that voters deserve to know as they listen to the claims President Obama and his campaign are making."
While Biden engaged in partisan campaigning Wednesday, Obama did not. The president got an up-close look at Sandy's devastation in New Jersey, taking a disaster tour guided by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
Back at UM, Mack, Bush and Rubio gave remarks before Romney.
“If we make the right decisions in this election, we can turn our country around. We can get back on the road to prosperity," said Mack, who is challenging Sen. Bill Nelson in Tuesday's election.
Mack said one of the first things they'll do is repeal Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.
Romney promoted his five-point economic plan, including boosting the economy through energy, more trade and better schools, putting the government on track to a balanced budget while creating jobs, and helping small businesses.
He referenced how he worked with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in Massachusetts as its governor, from 2003 to 2007.
Romney said the country cannot change course if people keep attacking each other politically.
“We have got to come together and to get America on track again,” he said.
Miami-Dade Transit officials said that because of the UM event, Metrorail would experience intermittent disruptions in service from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Metrobus will experience service delays on Route 48 and 56 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., and all routes that provide service in the Coral Gables area may experience delays.
Earlier on Wednesday Romney attended a rally in Tampa with Rubio, Bush and Mack. He'll follow up the Miami stop with a rally in Jacksonville.
With 29 electoral votes up for grabs in Florida, the Sunshine State is a key swing state in the 2012 election.
Obama's wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, will be in the state on Thursday with events at the James L. Knight Center in Miami after stops in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach. And the president will campaign in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday as part of a cross-country pre-election sprint, his campaign said Wednesday.