Vandalia, Ohio –
Ohio has emerged as the presidential race’s undisputed focus. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making multiple stops this week alone in a state that’s trending toward the president, endangering Romney’s White House hopes.
The popularity of Obama’s auto industry bailout and a better-than-average local economy are undermining Romney’s call for Ohioans to return to their GOP-leaning ways, which were crucial to George W. Bush’s two elections. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, seventh most in the nation, and no Republican has won the White House without carrying it.
Romney is scrambling to reverse the polls that show Obama ahead. On Tuesday, he made the first of his four planned Ohio stops this week, joining his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, for a rally near Dayton. On Wednesday, Obama will visit the college towns of Kent and Bowling Green, and Romney’s bus tour will stop in the Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo areas.
“If this president persists on the road of making it harder and harder for small businesses to grow and thrive, he’s going to slowly but surely weaken our economy and turn us into Greece,” Romney told supporters Tuesday in Vandalia. He said the Obama administration has put government between patients and their doctors, and is picking winners and losers in private business.
“That is not the America that built Ohio!” Romney declared.
His tone was urgent, but the points were standard campaign language from Romney. His allies hope they will start resonating in this crucial state.
One problem for Romney is that Ohio’s 7.2 percent unemployment rate is below the national average, as the Republican governor, John Kasich, often reminds residents.