ORLANDO, Fla. - Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney returned to the crucial Interstate 4 corridor on Tuesday for the first time since securing the Republican nomination, and he promptly ripped into President Barack Obama as an "out of touch" leader whose health care legislation is weakening American business.
Romney took the stage at 9:55 a.m. at a campaign event at Con-Air Industries on Seaboard Road, just south of Lake Orlando, to the sounds of "Born Free," a raucous country-rock number by Kid Rock.
Over the next 25 minutes, Romney blasted Obama's Affordable Care Act and continued to tweak the incumbent about his claim that the private sector is "doing fine."
"The president, as you know, said that the private sector's doing fine. He is so out of touch with what's going on in America," Romney said.
Romney said the country needs a president who is in touch with what is happening in America, which is him.
He attacked the Affordable Care Act, standing beneath a banner that read, "Repeal & Replace Obamacare."
"I intend to do both if I am president," Romney said to sustained applause. Romney also said if the Supreme Court invalidates the law, he would replace it.
Romney's plan would allow states to care for the uninsured with Medicaid money, give individuals tax breaks for buying insurance and retain the Affordable Care Act's prohibition against denying coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
Romney said Obama cut Medicare by $500 billion to pay for his health care program. In fact, the Affordable Care Act would lead to a reduction in growth of Medicare spending by $500 billion over 10 years, but it would not be cut by $500 billion.
"I don't think (Obama) understands the power of free people pursuing their dreams ... I'm disappointed in a president who tries to attack success and divide the American people," Romney said.
Standing before pink and blue fiberglass spools that spelled out "Mitt "in blue, Romney also attacked the American Recovery Act, saying the president "borrowed almost a trillion dollars but used it to protect government." He did not mention that a third of the stimulus spending went to tax cuts.
"The president is so out of touch," Romney said. "He doesn't understand how his policies have hurt this country.
"We need a strong American for free world," Romney said.
Congressman Connie Mack, who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, warmed up the crowd, urging them to help "take back the Senate" and "make sure this is Senator (Bill) Nelson's last term." Romney later endorsed Mack in his speech.
Romney attended a fundraiser in Isleworth following the campaign stop.
Florida is considered a swing-state in the upcoming presidential election, and the I-4 corridor, which runs through Central Floria, is expected to be one of the hottest-contended areas in November.
It's not known when Obama will make his next visit to the region. Vice President Joe Biden, however, will be the keynote speaker at the national conference of U.S. mayors on Friday at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel in Orlando.
A recent NBC News poll shows Obama leading Romney in Florida, 48 percent to 44 percent.
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