Obama’s birthday wish: Win Florida

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

World peace? A new car? Nope. President Barack Obama joked Thursday that his birthday wish this year would be to win Florida.

"I'm going to be 51 on Saturday. Fifty-one. Michelle says I look 50. That's not bad," Obama told a cheering crowd of supporters at Rollins College in Orlando, Fla. In response, the crowd sang part of "Happy Birthday" to the president.

"If I'd known you guys were going to sing, we would have had a cake," Obama said. "And then I would have blown out the candles. I would have made a wish—that probably would have had to do with electoral votes. Winning Florida wouldn't be a bad birthday present."

The Sunshine State's 29 Electoral College votes would indeed be a nice haul on the road to the 270 needed to win. Florida is on the list of battleground states that Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are fighting for. The president enjoys a narrow 1.4 percentage point lead over the former Massachusetts governor in an average of polls by the Real Clear Politics website. But unemployment in Florida is 8.6 percent—higher than the national average of 8.2 percent—and the state has high foreclosure rates and other issues that may help Romney snuff out Obama's hopes.