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Campaigning in Florida, Romney hits Obama on defense cuts

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama's handling of military funding during his term in office while speaking to a crowd in Pensacola, Florida, on Saturday.

PENSACOLA, FL -- Campaigning in this famous Navy town on Florida's panhandle, Mitt Romney returned to a topic from last week's final presidential debate, slamming the president for proposed defense cuts and pushing his plan to expand the US naval fleet.

Henry Gomez of the Cleveland Plain Dealer discusses the strategies of both the Romney and Obama campaigns in the critical battleground state of Ohio.

“In 2010, then-President Obama came to Pensacola. You probably weren’t there, but some folks were. And he took pride in saying, and I quote, that he had halted reductions in the Navy. That’s what he said. But today, he again has shrunk to a smaller version of the Navy and his view of the Navy’s role," Romney told a crowd of 10,000 supporters here Saturday, setting the scene.

Related: Romney turns Obama's attacks back against the president

"You may recall in our most recent debate I made the point that our Navy is now smaller than any time well, in almost a hundred years, and the president’s response was, well, you know, we don’t use bayonets and horses anymore. And, uh, in fact we do use bayonets, and a modern Navy is one of the critical elements that allows us to protect sea lanes and to keep the world more free and prosperous," Romney said.

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In the final push in the 2012 presidential election, candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama make their last appeals to voters.

The former Massachusetts governor has made increasing the size and role of the Navy a cornerstone of his military policy. Here in Pensacola, home to a major Naval installation where former GOP presidential candidate John McCain went to flight school, his plan for the Navy took on an outsize role in what was otherwise a largely boilerplate stump speech.

"I believe in a modern Navy. That’s why my plan is to increase the number of ships we’re building to maintain our strong commitment to our military," Romney said. "His vision is not greatness in America’s Navy or America’s military. His vision is to cut our military spending by a trillion dollars. And by the way, a trillion dollars in cuts would cost about 41,000 jobs here in Florida, and think of all the businesses that depend on all those jobs. It’s extraordinary, but the president’s agenda keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller.”

Saturday is the first day for early voting in Florida, a key battleground state that is pivotal to Romney's chances of taking the White House in 10 days. While Romney himself did not mention early voting in his remarks, both Sen. Marco Rubio and Senate hopeful Rep. Connie Mack urged supporters to cast their ballots right away.

"You know today is the first day of early voting, so when you're done here today, what are you going to do?" Mack asked, as the crowd shouted back "Vote!"

"You're gonna go out and vote and then you're gonna call your friends, you're gonna call your neighbors, you're gonna call your family. No matter where they are, tell them to get out to vote."