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Romney gets personal at Florida rally

The presidential race heated up as Mitt Romney continued his assault of President Obama's record in Florida, saying that a 7.8 percent unemployment rate is nothing to celebrate. NBC's Ron Mott reports.




PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Mitt Romney concluded a three-day Florida campaign swing with one of his largest crowds of the campaign season packing a town square to hear his retooled stump speech, which now highlights the sometimes-rigid candidate's personal side.

"Now I’m optimistic – I want you to know that great days are ahead," Romney said Sunday before more than 10,000 supporters. "I know something about great human beings in this country. It’s that that gives me the confidence that our future will be so bright, because I’ve seen how Americans respond to challenge – and even to tragedy."

Romney then repeated three tales of courage in the face of death and tragedy that he debuted days ago in this critical battleground state.

The stories, told in succession, have quickly become a staple of Romney's stump speech and are designed to highlight the candidate's personal compassion.

One story even makes note of Romney's time as a pastor of a Massachusetts ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – a period once all but off limits for Romney, who rarely spoke of his Mormon religion in the early months of the campaign.

“I was serving as a pastor in my congregation at church and the – young fellow in our ward named David Oparowski, his parents from Medford, Massachusetts – his dad a firefighter, his mom a stay at home mom. They raised their two sons. But at age 14, David contracted leukemia and became very, very ill," Romney said. "It was clear that there was no good conclusion to this leukemia."

Romney ends the story of David's untimely death with a recitation of the phrase: "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," borrowed from the NBC’s high school football drama, "Friday Night Lights." That phrase, with the "can't lose" removed, also appeared in a campaign fundraising email from Ann Romney on Sunday.

The former Massachusetts governor also hit all five points of his economic plan. He also noted that his plan would protect Medicare for current seniors and reform it for the future.

Given the heated battle for the senior vote here in Florida, the Obama campaign quickly fired back on Medicare reform.

"Mitt Romney would turn Medicare into a voucher program and increase costs for retirees by more than $6,000,” Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith said in a statement. “The truth hurts – especially for the middle class families who would suffer under Romney’s policies.”