(PENSACOLA, Fla.) — Kicking off his three-stop Floridian tour Saturday, Mitt Romney appealed to the military-centric community there, pledging a stronger commitment to the military.
In doing so, Romney brought up one of President Obama’s quips from last week’s presidential debate, in which Obama challenged the Republican nominee’s knowledge of how the military operates.
“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,” Romney said on Saturday, paraphrasing — and altering — the exchange during the debate. “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.”
Obama had actually said that the military doesn’t use as many bayonets and horses as it once did, not that it doesn’t use them at all.
A fact check by ABC News found that the Army has 419,155 bayonets in its inventory and the Marine Corps has another 195,334 bayonets that it bought in 2004 and it plans on buying 175,061 more bayonets this year.
“I believe in a modern Navy,” said Romney. “That’s why my plan is to increase the number of ships we’re building to maintain our strong commitment to our military. 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.”
Romney, who was joined on the trail by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, did not mention that Saturday was the start of early voting in Florida, leaving that up to his surrogates.
“We are 10 days away from ushering a new era of American politics and American history,” Rubio said. “We are 10 days away! Ten more days. We are 10 days away from electing someone to the White House that doesn’t just believe in the American free enterprise system he—understands it because he has lived it. We are 10 days away from electing someone to the White House who understands the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest country in the world.
“You need to go out and vote. You need to make sure five other people go out and vote,” Rubio urged the crowd of 10,000. “You can convince five other people to go, you know who they are. They want to vote, but they’re not going to unless you get them there. You need to go get them there. And if you know people in some other states, places like, I don’t know, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, you need to call them on the phone. Great thing about being from Florida is that everyone knows somebody from somewhere else.”
Rubio looked ahead to the day after Election Day, telling the crowd that he wants to wake up to good news, thanks to them.
“I don’t want to wake up Wednesday morning to the bad news that we almost did it. I want to wake up Wednesday morning to the news that the Republican majority has taken over the Senate, that a Republican majority,” Rubio paused, drowned out by loud cheers. “That a Republican majority remains in the House, and that Mitt Romney is the president elect of the United States!”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Michael Pearson, Elise Labott, Tiffany Ap and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Newswire