TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida is shaping up as the most important swing state in the presidential election, and the candidates are doing all they can to earn voters' support.
President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have each visited the state about 20 times so far and they plan more stops in the final weeks of the campaign. Both are ratcheting up their spending on TV advertising too.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry calls Florida a must-win state for Romney. He said the Republican grassroots effort is much better than four years ago and getting Romney's message out will be critical.
"The grassroots were up exponentially over where we were in 2008 in terms of our activity, our phone banking, our door-to-door and it's also about carrying the message, talking to folks in church, at your schools, at your synagogues. I'm seeing a lot more of that stuff that you can't measure than you saw in 2008."
Democrats are also pleased with their grassroots efforts. The Florida Democratic Party reports it has out-registered Republicans for seven straight months.
Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said he's seeing more enthusiasm among Democrats since the convention compared to four years ago during Obama's winning campaign.
Smith said that attitude is extending to independents and even some crossover Republicans.
"I've had several people in the last few weeks who have said 'I'm going to vote for the president,' a number of which are Republicans and small businessmen, saying 'Yeah, I'm going to vote for the president.'"
Smith said he likes the way the race is shaping up in Florida. The latest polls show the president leading Romney and there are signs the economy is improving.
"It really boils down to, I think, the people of Florida have decided that Romney wants to offer the same things that got us in this recession to start with and the president has fought through this thing and we're moving in the right direction. The market today is over 13,500 and that's been years since that's been true."
Curry said Republicans have the mindset they will win Florida's 29 electoral votes, but he said they'll operate as if they are down 10 points in the polls.
"Florida's a must-win for Mitt Romney. I-4 corridor is very important. Hillsborough County has called every presidential election since 1960 with the exception of one."
First Lady Michelle Obama will campaign in Florida on Monday. She is scheduled to speak in Tallahassee and Gainesville.
First Coast News