OCALA, Fla. - The Obama campaign dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to play defense in Florida on Wednesday, with stops in the smaller, more conservative areas of Sarasota and Ocala aimed at narrowing the margin where Republicans usually fare well.
Biden's campaign rally at the Discovery Center at Tuscawilla Park in Ocala comes on the heels of a new poll that put President Barack Obama slightly ahead of Mitt Romney in Florida.
Channel 9's Berndt Petersen said Biden hit several points during his 35-minute speech, hitting the Romney campaign on taxes, Medicare and pay for women. In all, 2,500 people turned out to hear Biden speak.
A key in Florida is what is called the "Ground Game," making sure that they get out the vote.
"We're knocking on doors, making phone calls, and trying to get other people to (vote early)," said Obama supporter Doris Joaquin.
Hundreds of people were in line for the event hours before Biden even arrived, but the campaign made good use of that time by sending volunteers through the crowd to organize shuttles to the polls.
While Obama carried the Sunshine State four years ago, some of the local party faithful are a bit nervous this time, according to Petersen.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we can win!" Biden told the crowd. "We win Florida, we win this election! Stay with us!"
The president's campaign is well organized in Florida, and a win or a loss likely depends on getting supporters excited and getting them to the polls.
Obama supporter Debbie LaPointe said those voters they should listen to Biden.
"I wouldn't be in my home right now. My kids wouldn't be in college right now, and I think in Marion County, people who are undecided should be here to hear what this is all about," said LaPointe.
According to Marion County's supervisor of elections, early voting in the county is up 33 percent so far this election over 2008.
Earlier, in Sarasota, Biden joked about running for president in 2016.
Biden took a customer's cellphone and engaged the man on the other end -- apparently the customer's brother -- in a lengthy discussion of the health care overhaul law.
After a while, Biden told the man, who seemed to be a Republican, that he wasn't going to argue with him to get his vote. Then Biden said: "After it's all over, when your insurance rates go down, then you'll vote for me in 2016."
Biden's campaign declined to comment on his remark or clarify his plans for 2016.
The exchange followed a political rally in which Biden slammed a GOP ad on the auto industry as "flagrantly dishonest."