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Barack Obama claims Mitt Romney will harm middle class

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama told voters in Florida on Thursday that Republican challenger Mitt Romney wants to undo the structures of American society that built a vibrant middle class.

Romney, speaking in a Boston suburb, repeated his charge that Obama was more concerned with his re-election than bringing down the nation's high rate of unemployment.

The men battling to win the November election for the White House are engaging in the kind of intense campaigning normally reserved for the final weeks of the contest.

Obama's decision to spend two days in Florida signals the importance of the state. If the president can win there, as he did in 2008, Romney would have a difficult time blocking the president's return to the White House. The U.S. presidential elections are not won according to the popular vote nationally but in state-by-state contests.

Republicans are holding their national convention in Florida in August in hopes of giving themselves an edge in the state.

Obama was hitting hard on themes important to residents of Florida, a state heavily populated with retired Americans, military personnel and a middle class worried about the slow economic recovery and unemployment.

Obama said the basic bargain in the United States was “at risk like never before” because of Republican policies, those promoted by Romney who has a fortune estimated at a quarter billion dollars.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, American has always been a place where you can make it if you work hard,” Obama said.

Obama, speaking directly to retired Americans, hammered Romney for backing a plan that would overhaul Medicare, government health insurance for those over 65. He said those changes would end up costing retired people an additional US$6,400 a year.

As Obama spoke in Florida, Romney appeared at a hastily arranged event in a suburb of Boston, headquarters for his campaign.

He repeated his charge of a day earlier that Obama was paying more attention to his re-election than to the need to return Americans to work.

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 US airport security stop man with huge penis 
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, center, shakes hands with Rodney Hollis, an employee of Middlesex Truck and Coach, during a campaign stop in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Thursday. (AFP/AP)

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