The battle for Tampa Bay's voters heated up Friday as President Barack Obama came to town to talk about his second run at the White House and the future of the nation.
Obama made a stop at Hillsborough Community College's Dale Mabry campus in Tampa for a Friday afternoon appearance. More than 2,700 Floridians came from all around the Gulf Coast to snatch up free tickets to see the president at the school's gymnasium.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn stirred up the crowd, leaving the stage to chants of "four more years" just minutes before Obama took the stage. The president was humorous throughout many parts of his speech, particularly when referring to Mitt Romney campaign ads that will run ahead of November's election.
"Tampa, it's up to you," Obama said. "The other side is going to spend more money than we've ever seen on ad after ad with scary voices and me looking old and broke down, but I need you to still believe in me."
He drew a laugh from the crowd when a crash of thunder hit while he attempted to discredit Romney's policies. "See?" the president said.
Other topics ranged from infrastructure, American industry and the outsourcing of U.S. jobs.
"Today it was reported in The Washington Post that the companies his firm owned were 'pioneers' in the outsourcing of American jobs to places like China and India," Obama said. "Pioneers! Let me tell you, Tampa, we do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office. We need a president who will fight for American jobs and fight for American manufacturing. That’s what my plan will do. That’s why I’m running for a second term as president of the United States."
South Tampa resident Alaine Procko-Oliveri was inspired by the president's take on party politics and his pledge Friday to work "with anyone, Democrat or Republican, who shares my vision."
"I think the fact that he wants to work with everyone, not just Democrats is what makes him special," Procko-Oliveri said. "I like his ideas for manufacturing jobs domestically and not sending them overseas like his opponent."
The issue of mass transit stirred a cheer with the Floridians in attendance. Obama's ideas on the country's future infrastructure were greeted with delight from 27-year old Michael Fitzwater of Seminole Heights.
"I thought he said a lot of great things about our infrastructure from our ports to our roads," Fitzwater said. "He wanted to give us the money to bring in high speed rail to Orlando, and I think that is important. Tampa is a blue-collar city, and that would bring those kinds of jobs."
For Colleen Upshaw of Temple Terrace, her support of the president is based on her belief that he is the best candidate for the future of blue-collar jobs.
"That speech was very motivating, and now I'm fired up," Upshaw said. "I voted for him the last time, and I'll do it again. I think when you look at projects like the connector that we're building from I-4 to the Port of Tampa, you see the kinds of projects he is all about. That stuff just means more jobs for everybody."
Driving up from Sarasota, Jean Spaeth went the extra mile to see the president and said she was impressed by his demeanor. Spaeth is hoping to see Obama re-elected so that he can continue his work to change the face of the nation, she said.
"He was very uplifting and wonderful as always," Spaeth said. "He's very clear about what he stands for, unlike Romney, who I have no idea where he'd go. It makes all the difference. I also back him because he wanted to improve our transit systems here in Florida, which in a state where you don't have a lot of young people staying here, that's important. I really do believe that he wakes up every day with our best interests at heart."