Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters Wednesday, at the SeaGate Centre.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Mitt Romney wrapped up a three-city trek across Ohio today with a speech to a crowd in the Toledo's SeaGate Convention Center this evening.
Mr. Romney told supporters he would promote small business expansion, and end the expansion of the nation's debt, which kept clicking upward on a large lighted screen next to the candidate.
"The President just the other day said you can't change Washington from the inside, you can only change it from the outside. Well we're going to give him that chance on Nov. 6," Mr. Romney said.
Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook estimated the crowd in the downtown convention center at just over 4,000. Many people waited in drizzling weather to get in for the 5:30 p.m. program.
Mr. Romney attacked President Obama's signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, known also as Obamacare, and said he would repeal it.
"Obamacare is really exhibit No. 1 of the President's political philosphy, and that is that government knows better than people how to run their lives," Mr. Romney said.
He said government has a role in making sure that people who are hurting, who are disabled, who are poor get the help they need.
"We're a compassionate people," he said. "At the same time, we're going to insist that these people have the opportunity for work if they can carry out work, because we're not going to create a society of dependence on government."
Mr. Romney's local introducers included George Sarantou, the Republican candidate for Lucas County recorder, and U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R.,Bowling Green), who is seeking re-election. Absent from the event was the Republican candidate for the district in which the event was held, Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher. Mr. Stainbrook said Mr. Wurzelbacher told him he was campaigning door-to-door.
More than 75 Obama supporters chanted “Outsource Romney” at supporters who were waiting in line to hear the GOP candidate speak at the convention hall.
The pro Obama-Biden group, which included supporters who came on buses following Mr. Romney Ohio campaign stops, later launched into a chorus of “Hey hey. Ho ho, Romney and Ryan have got to go.”
The protesters stood across the street from the center’s entrance on Jefferson Street - some wearing Romney masks and “Obama for Ohio” badges and holding up signs that read “Seniors Aren’t Victims,” Romney Ryan? Be afraid, be very afraid,” and “Romney - 100 percent out of touch.”
As she waited to enter SeaGate Centre, the response of Sandy Brady of Toledo, a Romney-Ryan supporter, was: “Get a job if you don’t have one. Stop drinking the Kool-aid and stop coveting what other people have. You have to earn it yourself.”
Added John Hill of Sylvania: "It’s just noise. I am here to support Romney. I think he has the right plan. He knows about money and Paul Ryan brings experience with strategies for legislative initiatives. They understand that you can’t spend more money than you make.”
Many who attended the event stood outside in the rain waiting to get inside. The line into the convention center stretched two blocks down Jefferson Avenue and around Huron Street.
Two single engine-planes circled around the downtown Toledo skyline before the event; each pulling banners with opposing messages.
One read: Mitt: the 47 % are soldiers, students, and seniors, and the other, Save America Vote Romney Dismiss Obama.
Nick Buhrow and Jessica Wright, both 18 and Bowling Green State University students, went to the rally with different views of the election.
Mr. Buhrow, of Cleveland, said his mind is made up and he will vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket on Nov. 6. “I have always liked the Republican ideas. I came to Mitt Romney in person.”
Miss Wright said she was undecided and wanted to hear what Mr. Romney had to say.
“I want to know what he wants to do for the country,” she said. “I already know what President Obama has to say.”
The rally in Toledo ended a three-day bus tour involving Mr. Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan.
Earlier in the day, he shared the stage with Columbus native and golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.
The Romney campaign's day in swing-state Ohio started off with the release of a new poll from Quinnipiac University/ CBS News/New York Times showing him trailing President Obama in Ohio by 53-43 percent.
Mr. Nicklaus said his values of hard work and self-reliance are the same as those of Mr. Romney and likened the tenure of President Obama to an errant golf shot.
"The worst thing you can do on a golf course is to dwell on a bad shot. We are too late to change recent history but we can write a better future for ourselves, for our children, and for their children," said Mr. Nicklaus, 72.
Mr. Romney was also introduced by Gov. John Kasich, who lives in Westerville.
"Being governor and trying to come out of a mess is tough, but what I really need to really fix this state is I need Mitt Romney as president of the United States," Mr. Kasich said.
In his own remarks, Mr. Romney lambasted the growing national debt, which he said has increased from $10 billion to more than $16 billion under President Obama and is likely to reach $20 billion if he gets another four years.
"It is crushing. We're on the road to Europe, we're on the road to Greece, I will get us off that road," Mr. Romney said.
President Obama is over the magic 50 percent mark and tops former Massachusetts Gov. Romney among likely voters by 9 to 12 percentage points in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the new poll. In Ohio, it shows Mr.Obama leading Mr. Romney 53-43 percent.
“Gov. Mitt Romney had a bad week in the media and it shows in these key swing states,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “The furor over his 47 percent remark almost certainly is a major factor in the roughly double-digit leads President Barack Obama has in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The debates may be Romney’s best chance to reverse the trend in his favor.”
Staff writer Mark Reiter contributed to this report.