KENT — The Republican team of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan has gotten at least one person’s attention with the digital national debt board that they have been toting around Ohio — President Barack Obama.
Rallying before an estimated crowd of 6,600 at Kent State University tonight, the Democratic president tried to turn the numbers against the GOP ticket.
“When they go around, as they have in Ohio, with some board behind them with numbers saying how it’s a moral obligation to reduce the deficit, just ask them, well, explain how their numbers work because they don’t,’’ he said. “They don’t have a deficit reduction plan. They have a deficit expansion plan.’’
Mr. Obama again took aim at Mr. Romney’s proposal to reduce taxes by $5 trillion and cut the deficit without raising taxes for the middle class or eliminate the deductions they count on.
“No matter how many times they try to reboot their campaign , no matter how many times they try to tell you they’re going to start talking specifics really soon, they don’t do it, and the reason is because the math doesn’t work,’’ Mr. Obama said.
The President also briefly slipped up, confusing his own proposal to double American exports with his criticism that Mr. Romney outsourced jobs to China and other countries through his tenure at Bain Capital.
“I want to see us export more jobs,’’ Mr. Obama said before correcting himself to laughs from the crowd.
“Export more products. Excuse me,’’ he said. “I was channeling my opponent there for a second.’’
Mr. Obama also talked Wednesday about reducing the deficit, and the Romney campaign was quick to note he talked about the deficit before at Kent.
“Four years ago, Obama traveled to Kent State University and lamented that incomes had fallen $2,000 and $4 trillion had been added to the debt,’’ Romney spokesman Ryan Mahoney. “Today, he returns to Kent State University with a record that includes median household incomes in Ohio having fallen $4,300 over the past four years and $5.4 trillion added to the national debt in the last four years.
“It’s clear Ohioans can’t afford four more years of the failed policies from the last four years,’’ he said.
The battle over Ohio will continue next week. Mr. Obama is expected in Columbus on Oct. 4, two days after Ohioans begin to vote, and in Cleveland the next day. Details on the visits were not immediately available.
Seeking to energize the youth vote that early polls suggest is not there for him in the same numbers he enjoyed four years ago, Mr. Obama earlier in the day also rallied at Bowling Green State University.
“What enthusiasm gap?’’ asked Bryan Staul, president of College Democrats at Kent.
Megan Eishen, a 19-year-old musical theater sophomore who hails from Lindsey, Ohio, said college Democrats have been working to register students.
“Kent has a very Democratic side,’’ she said. “It goes all the way back to the 1970s when we were protesting the war. We are very outspoken. There’s a lot of Democratic support here, so for Obama to choose Kent State is a big statement.’’
Michael Cummings, a communications senior from North Canton, plans to vote in his first presidential election this year. He waited for an hour and a half in line to get tickets for the event, and today he got in line at 10:45 a.m. when doors wouldn’t open for nearly five more hours.
“As far as campaigning goes, I’m not seeing as much as I saw originally,’’ he said. “The biggest thing was that people got him into the White House. That was the big goal for young people, a young modern president. Since that happened, I think a little enthusiasm maybe was lost, but I think it is growing as the election gets closer.’’