WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Speaking to a boisterous crowd at a retirement community here, President Obama played the seasoned campaign veteran, unbowed by his opponent Mitt Romney’s negative ads even as the two trade barbs over each other's records and rhetoric.
“Frankly, I'd be worried if this were my first campaign. But I've been to this rodeo before,” Obama told a crowd of 675 at the Century Village retirement community on Thursday.
He joked that the crowd should just mute the negative TV ads inundating this crucial swing state, and acknowledged that their visual impact wouldn’t be too appealing either.
“Some of the pictures of me will be unflattering. Now, my face is all distorted, one eye's all droopy,” he said, imitating what some of the images in the ads would look like. “Right? I'm looking all grim,” he continued as the crowd roared with laughter.
The group of seniors and their family members, packed into a low-ceilinged clubhouse, was particularly rowdy, frequently shouting words of encouragement over the president and breaking into chants of “four more years!” whenever he paused.
The president seemed to feed off the crowd, especially after he made his way to the podium having waded through a crowd of senior women who were particularly excited to see him.
“That’s the most kisses I’ve gotten at any campaign event!” he said as he reached the stage.
Later, as an audience member’s phone rang, the president joked that it was his wife Michelle calling because she heard he was getting so much affection at the event.
Obama tailored his speech to fit this crowd, hitting similar notes as he did earlier at an event in Jacksonville - criticizing Romney’s plans for Medicare (he says Romney’s changes would cost seniors up to $6,400 more) but also appealing to the group’s strong support for Israel.
He condemned the “barbaric” terrorist attack in Bulgaria that killed five Israelis.
“I know a lot of people in this community care about the state of Israel. And we are heartbroken,” he said of the bombing.
He added that the rapid changes in the Middle East and the bloodshed in Syria meant that “now's the time to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect Israel's security.”
The president continues his campaign swing through Florida Friday with stops in Fort Myers and Orlando.