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On day of data, Romney turns personal

ST. PETERSBURG, FL-- On a day in which the news cycle was dominated by a political back-and-forth over the latest jobs report, Mitt Romney on Friday night took a personal tack instead at a rally here, regaling his audience with sometimes-morbid tales of courage from the Americans he has met over the years who have inspired him.

Midway through his remarks here at a steamy rally with more than 5,000 supporters, Romney pivoted away from his talking points on the economy and towards personal anecdotes. Perhaps most touching of the three tales of courage amid loss was that of David Oparowski, a young boy whom Romney counseled through his battle with leukemia; including writing a will for the 14-year old boy.

"I went to David’s bedside and got a piece of legal paper, made it look very official. And then David proceeded to tell me what he wanted to give his friends. Talked about his fishing rod, and who would get that. He talked about his skateboard, who’d get that. And his rifle, that went to his brother," Romney recalled.

"I’ve seen the character of a young man like David, who wasn’t emotional or crying. He had his eyes wide open. There’s a saying, clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose," Romney said, quoting from Friday Night Lights, a television drama about football in a small Texas town of which he and Mrs. Romney are both devoted fans. "David couldn’t lose. I loved that young man."

The more personal tone from Romney, including Oparowski's story, which was told by his mother at the Republican convention last month, marked the continued evolution of the Romney campaign's strategy to further round out their candidate's image in the final weeks of the convention.

"This is quite a nation we live in, with some extraordinary people," Romney said, wrapping up his third anecdote, about a soldier he was told about at the convention, whose mother told Romney her son had died abroad to protect freedom -- even the freedoms of "misguided" protesters who picketed the soldier's funeral. 

Even as Romney pivoted back to the economy, he kept his more personal, compassionate tone. Obliquely remarking on today's jobs report, Romney said he understood that Americans both with jobs and without were suffering. 

"People in this country are having a hard time finding a job," Romney said. "People in this country are having a hard time making ends meet even if they have a job."