Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama’s handling of economy during campaign stop in St. Pete

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Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama’s record on debt this morning during a campaign stop in St. Petersburg.

“He has been a disappointment at best,” Romney told several hundred supporters in a crowded Mirror Lake Lyceum ballroom.

It was the first stop in a brief swing today through the Tampa Bay area for Romney. He is also slated to appear at a fundraiser in Tampa.

He was campaigning in Florida – a critical battleground state – for the first time since becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Romney told the St. Petersburg crowd that he was the candidate who “will stop the spending and borrowing inferno.”

Romney said neither party is solely to blame for the country’s $15.7 trillion national debt. He claims Obama is eager to blame predecessor George W. Bush – though Romney refused to mention Bush by name, instead referring to him as “the predecessor.”

Bush endorsed Romney on Tuesday. The campaign did not put out a statement on Bush’s decision, though spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Romney “welcomed” his support.

As he spoke, Romney stood on a stage in front of a large electronic “debt clock” sign displaying the growing national debt.

The president “said he would cut the debt in half,” Romney said. “Instead, he doubled it.”

Romney also discussed his plans to increase military spending, including the building of more Navy ships.

Romney was expected to make another stop this morning in Tampa for a fundraiser at the Avila Golf & Country Club, 943 Guisando De Avila.

A VIP reception for the event begins at 11:30 a.m. and costs $10,000 per person. A reception at noon costs $2,500 per person.

Material from the Associated Press and Tampa Tribune were used in this report.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.