CINCINNATI — Mitt Romney erupted out of Tampa with his party's nomination in hand and declared on Saturday that President Obama is a losing coach who needs to be fired.
Mr. Romney landed in Ohio hoping to score big with the battleground state's voters by using much the same message he offered at the Republican National Convention: promises to create 12 million jobs, make better use of the nation's fossil fuels such as oil and coal, improve schools, and open more trade options.
The former Massachusetts governor homed in on Saturday's start of the college football season on many major campuses. He weaved sports analogies into his stump speech and urged Ohio voters to hire a "new coach." At the same time, running mate Paul Ryan was at Ohio State University watching the Buckeyes play Miami University of Ohio, his alma mater.
"One of the promises [President Obama] made was he was going to create more jobs, and today there are 23 million people who are out of work or have stopped looking for work or underemployed," Mr. Romney told hundreds of cheering supporters during his first major campaign stop as an official nominee.
"Let me tell you, if you have a coach that is zero and 23 million, you say it's time to get a new coach. It's time for America to see a winning season again, and we are going to bring it to them," he said.
After accepting the GOP presidential nomination in a national convention finale, Mr. Romney left Tampa, made a quick stop in Lakeland, Fla., and then visited Louisiana to tour damage from Hurricane Isaac before flying Friday night to Ohio.
In addition to promising actions such as repealing President Obama's health-care plan and opening more international trade while cracking down on China "and other cheaters," Mr. Romney promised unity for the nation.
"I will do everything in my power to bring us together," he said. "This is a time for us to come together as a nation. We do not have to have the kind of divisiveness and bitterness and recriminations we've seen over the last four years. I will bring us together."
During his 15-minute speech, Mr. Romney went through his five-point plan for improving the economy and drew the loudest cheers when he promised to replace the President's health-care plan.
Mr. Romney hammered at President Obama's record of the past four years, accusing him of breaking promises he made during the 2008 Democratic national convention. The President failed to create jobs, he said.
Mr. Romney also re-delivered a key line from his acceptance speech last week in Tampa, mocking the President for promising to "slow the rise of the oceans." Mr. Romney said he instead will "help the American people and help the families of America."
Mr. Romney also once again invoked the name of Ohio native Neil Armstrong.
"United, America built the strongest economy in the history of the Earth. United, we put Neil Armstrong on the moon. United, we face down unspeakable darkness," he said.
Hundreds of people lined up for hours to see Mr. Romney at the historic Cincinnati Union Terminal, which has been the chosen venue for other politicians. Joe Biden spoke there in 2008 during a campaign stop, and John Kerry did the same in 2004.
Mr. Romney's wife, Ann, Speaker of the House John Boehner, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), and Senate candidate Josh Mandel all joined Mr. Romney on stage.
The event doubled as a stump speech for Mr. Mandel, the Ohio treasurer, who is locked in a tight race with the incumbent senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown. Both Mr. Romney and Mr. Portman asked voters to send Mr. Mandel to Washington over Mr. Brown.
Mr. Boehner blamed Democrats for blocking Republican efforts aimed at fixing the economy. "It's time for Americans to stand up and reclaim our country," he said.
Steve Kleykamp of Mason, Ohio, was possibly the only undecided voter in the house Saturday. He came away still trying to decide.
"I voted for Obama last time and I still kind of like him, but some people think he is too socialist in his policies and that is the direction he is taking us," said Mr. Kleykamp, a nonfiction author. "I am interested in what Romney can do for the economy. … A president can hinder business as much as he can help."
Ann Weatherington of Cincinnati, on the other hand, proclaimed herself a die-hard Romney supporter.
"He is here to help us — to make America better again," she said. "Obama had four years and did nothing to create jobs, and instead he was making Obamacare, which costs us with insurance already, lots more."
President Obama is to travel to Toledo today ahead of campaign stops on Labor Day.
The Obama campaign responded swiftly to Mr. Romney's Cincinnati appearance.
"Fresh off the heels of his so-called convention reinvention, Mitt Romney continues to tear down President Obama with false and completely debunked rhetoric instead of lifting up the country as he visited the Queen City today," said Jessica Kershaw, the Ohio spokesman for Obama for America.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.