By Carolina Jimenez and Zkyra Carter
DELRAY BEACH – A pumped up President Barack Obama set the Delray Beach Tennis Center on fire shortly before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday as he told an array of supporters that challenger Gov. Mitt Romney shifts his policy positions on key issues and cannot be trusted to deal honestly with the public as the presidential campaign entered its frantic final weeks.
“In a world of new threats and profound challenges, America needs leadership that is strong and is steady,” Obama told the crowd of approximately 11,000. “Governor Romney’s foreign policy has been wrong and reckless.”
He told the supporters – many who waited since 5 a.m. in a line, which snaked into the neighborhood – that they “can trust that I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.”
Referring to his opponent’s changing stance on Iraq and the auto industry, the president said that Governor Romney had a ‘severe outbreak’ of ‘Romnesia’ during Monday night’s third and final presidential debate at Lynn University. The pair squared off in a debate, which focused on foreign policy. Such debate format typically benefits the commander-in-chief.
He painted his opponent as being outdated and showed he vacillated on his stance.
“Last night he was all over the map. Did you notice that? During the debate he said he didn’t want more troops in Iraq, but he was caught on video saying it was unthinkable not to leave 20,000 troops in Iraq, troops that would still be there today,” Obama said.
“Last night he claimed to support my plan to end the war in Afghanistan. I’m glad he supports it. But he’s opposed a timeline that would actually bring our troops home,” he continued. “Early in this campaign he said he’d do the opposite of whatever I did in Israel, but last night I reminded him that cooperation with Israel has never been stronger.”
In Monday’s debate Romney said he always supported taking out Osama bin Laden, but in 2007, he said it wasn’t worth moving heaven and earth to catch one man, the president told the crowd.
“We’ve come up with a name for this condition. It’s called Romnesia,” Obama said. The president joked a “severe case” had broken out on Monday – “maybe stage three.”
“I just want to go over with you some of the symptoms, Delray, because I want to make sure nobody in the surrounding area catches it,” he said. “If you say that you love American cars during a debate, but you wrote an article titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” you might have Romnesia. If you talk about how much you love teachers during a debate but said just a few weeks ago that we shouldn’t hire anymore because they won’t grow the economy, what do you have?”
Even as he highlighted what he said were Romney’s shortcomings in Tuesdays’ debate, Obama’s camp unveiled a glossy new 20-page booklet outlining his second-term agenda, which he said will “actually move America forward.” The campaign said it will print 3.5 million copies for volunteers to distribute in door-to-door canvassing.
“Unlike Mitt Romney, I’m actually proud to talk about what’s in it because my plan actually will move America forward,” he said. “And, by the way, the math in my plan adds up. If we’ve got any math teachers out there, you can go ahead and look in this plan – and you’ll see that the numbers work. I won’t be running the okeydoke on you.”
Elaine Barnes of Boynton Beach said she was convinced waking up at 3:45 a.m. to be in line by 5 a.m. was worthwhile.
“It was refreshing to hear something that I can relate to – something that affects middle class people like me,” said Barnes, a healthcare worker who took the day off. “I know I won’t get paid for the day but the benefits of being here and hearing my next president, far outweighs the paycheck.”
C. Ron Allen contributed to this article.