Romney spoke to a crowd of 30,000
The presidential race returned to Ohio for the final push Friday as GOP challenger Mitt Romney held a massive rally in the Republican heartland north of Cincinnati and President Barack Obama cut a swath through central Ohio.
“The question of the election comes down to this: Do you want more of the same or do you want real change?” Romney said Friday night in West Chester Township. “I promise change, and I actually have a record of achieving it.”
Romney spoke to a crowd of 30,000, according to West Chester Fire Chief Tony Goller – making it the largest rally of the campaign, said Romney spokesman Chris Maloney.
Both candidates are trying to make up for campaign time lost to superstorm Sandy and deliver their final arguments to voters before Tuesday’s election.
Obama, in his first Ohio trip since Sandy struck the East Coast, said in Lima on Friday afternoon that the policies of previous Republican administrations didn’t work.
“Ohio, we’ve tried our ideas and they work,” he said. “We’ve tried the other folks’ ideas. They don’t work. The eight years before I took office, we tried their ideas. What did we get? We got falling incomes, record deficits ... and an economic crisis that we’ve been cleaning up after ever since.”
With less than four days before Election Day, the race is too close to predict in several key states, including Ohio. The latest poll out Friday, by CNN/ORC International, shows Obama leading 50 percent to 47 percent in Ohio, well within the 3.5 percentage point margin of error.
Obama will make what’s almost certainly his last Cincinnati stop of the campaign at the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena on Sunday evening, while Romney will be in Cleveland. And the candidates will campaign down to the wire in Ohio – both have announced events Monday in Columbus.
Kid Rock opened the Romney event, which also included appearances by a lengthy list of top Republicans, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“This is like having the Republican National Convention come here,” said Ohio Rep. Margaret Conditt of nearby Liberty Township. “All of the speakers that we saw in Tampa are here, except for Clint Eastwood, of course.”
Romney noted that unemployment is higher than when Obama took office, although the final pre-election report, released Friday, showed 171,000 new jobs added in October. The Labor Department also revised August and September jobs numbers upward. The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent in October, from 7.8 percent in September, as more workers re-entered the labor force.
“Candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he has fallen so very short,” Romney said. “He was going to focus on jobs, then he focused on Obamacare, which killed jobs.”
Romney said that Obama asked voters to vote for revenge, but “I ask the American people to vote for love of country.”
Obama actually said, “Voting is the best revenge.”
Romney also promised to bring bipartisanship to Washington.
“If I’m elected – no, when I’m elected – president, I’m going to work with … men and women on both sides of the aisle who care about our country,” he said.
Obama visited Hilliard, Springfield and, lastly, Lima, which hasn’t hosted a sitting Democratic president since Harry Truman in 1948.
Kept from the campaign trail for several days because of Hurricane Sandy, the president said the nation mourns those killed in the storm.
“No matter how bad things are, we’re in this together,” Obama said. “We rise and fall as one nation. That has guided this country for 200 years and the last four years.”
He told the crowd in Hilliard that Americans need a champion in Washington. He said the middle class, the poor and small-business owners need a seat at the table. “The folks at the very top of this country don’t need another seat at the table,” the president said.
“The people who need a champion are those whose letters I read every night. Cooks, waiters and cleaning staff at a hotel, they need a champion. The auto worker … now back in the plant, he needs a champion. Those kids dreaming of becoming scientists … or even president, they need a champion in Washington. We’ve come back too far to become faint-hearted.”
Obama speaks to 2,800
This was to be the mother of all U.S. jobs reports — the final snapshot of the U.S. economy before voters choose whether to keep President Barack Obama or dump him in favor of Republican Mitt Romney.
But yesterday’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report didn’t offer clarity: The country added 171,000 new jobs in October and unemployment ticked up from 7.8 percent in September to 7.9 percent.
That allowed both candidates to argue in Columbus-area visits that their plans for the economy are correct.
“This morning, we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months,” Obama said to 2,800 supporters inside a barn at the Franklin County Fairgrounds yesterday morning.
Obama was referring to the 184,000 private-sector jobs added last month, offset by the 13,000 government jobs lost. The labor force also grew by 578,000 people in October — meaning more people now are looking for work.
“We’ve made real progress, but we are here today because we know we’ve got more work to do,” Obama said. “As long as there’s a single American who wants a job and can’t find one; as long as there are families working harder but falling behind; as long as there’s a child anywhere in this country who’s languishing in poverty, and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on.”
Romney and the Republicans pounced on the country’s unemployment rate — which is still below the psychological 8 percent barrier but 0.1 point higher than when Obama took office.
“He said he’d get unemployment by now down to 5.2 percent, and we learned today that it kicked up to 7.9 percent,” Romney told 2,000 people yesterday at Screen Machine Industries in Etna Township. “That’s 9 million jobs short. Those are real Americans who can’t find work. … He’s got higher unemployment today than when he took office.”
Obama did not personally promise that unemployment would be 5.2 percent by now, but two of his economic advisers wrote in a report assessing the impact of a possible stimulus package before he took office that the country’s unemployment rate would be 5.4 percent now after the stimulus went into effect.
Jobs numbers in both August and September were revised upward, from 142,000 new jobs to 192,000 in August, and from 114,000 to 148,000 in September.
The largest month-to-month job gains were posted in professional and business services (51,000 jobs) and the health-care industry (31,000 jobs). The mining industry — a factor in the race for the White House in Ohio as both sides fight about coal — lost 9,000 jobs and has shed 17,000 jobs since May.
On the expanded labor force, BNP Paribas economist Julia Coronado told the Associated Press that the influx of people seeking jobs “could be a sign that people are starting to see better job prospects and so should be read as another positive aspect to the report.”
But the October jobs numbers’ impact on Tuesday’s outcome is difficult to determine. In a close race that’s included about $1 billion in ad spending, most already have made up their mind as to how they feel about the president’s handling of the economy and whether a new direction is needed.
“I own a small business in town, and the last four years my business has indeed improved,” Glenn Doell, owner of Curtis Elliott Designs in Hilliard, said at the Obama event. “I call my suppliers and I know they’re busier than they used to be. That’s a good barometer for me. “Can I attribute all of that to President Obama? I don’t know, but I want to give him another four years to see how far he can take it.”
Romney’s criticism of Obama for policies that have held back the economy has been a harder case to make in Ohio, where the 7 percent unemployment rate in September was nearly a point below the national average. In Licking County, home to Screen Machine, the rate was even lower in September, 5.7 percent, a significant improvement from the county’s 9.2 percent rate in September 2009 during the worst days of the Great Recession.A Quinnipiac University poll of swing states this week showed that 52 percent of likely Ohio voters say the state’s economy is getting better. Among voters in Florida and Virginia, the figure was below 40 percent.
Martin L. Savko, president of Nickolas Savko & Sons Inc., a Columbus-based earth-moving and road-building contractor, was among the Romney supporters and said he did not think Ohio’s improved economy will help Obama because people are anxious about the future.
“I’m 55 and no time ever have I seen fear in the eyes of the working man as I’ve seen now,” Savko said. “When you talk to the common man working out there by the hour, they know something is wrong.”
Fair and balanced by Rockntractor.