CLEVELAND -- President Obama capitalized on a national jobs report today to rally supporters and attack Republican candidate Mitt Romney despite a steady drizzle that had most of his listeners huddling under ponchos.
A new poll showed that Wednesday’s successful debate outing by Mr. Romney has contributed to a tightening in poll numbers.
Rasmussen Reports released a new survey of 500 likely voters taken on Thursday that had President Obama at 50 percent and Mr. Romney at 49 percent, with a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points either way.
Mr. Obama stood in the pouring rain without hat or umbrella to urge Ohio voters to get out to the polls to support his re-election.
“I’m here to tell everybody - independents, Republicans, Tea Party, all of you - I will be your President, too. I will fight just as hard for you," Mr. Obama said.
“I know I’m preaching to the choir here because you all are standing in the rain. A little rain never hurt anybody. Some of the policies from the other folks could hurt a lot of people," Mr. Obama said. The crowd was estimated at 9,000.
Many viewers thought the President responded too passively to Mr. Romney’s more aggressive style in the first presidential debate on Wednesday. While Mr. Romney wasn’t there personally in Cleveland to feel their sting, Mr. Obama let some zingers fly his way.
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“My opponent was doing a lot of tap dancing at the debate the other night, trying to wiggle out of stuff he's been saying for a year, like dancing with the stars, or maybe it was an extreme makeover,” Mr. Obama jested.
Mr. Obama started the day with a positive jobs report showing a drop in the unemployment rate below 8 percent for the first time since he took office in January, 2009.
"Today I believe that as a nation, we are moving forward again. When I was sworn into officer we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office," Mr. Obama said. “Today’s news should give us some encouragement. It shouldn’t be an excuse for the other side to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points.”
He said he would continue to support programs that help college students pay their tuition, and made fun of Mr. Romney's promise during the debate to abolish spending that he didn't think justifies borrowing money from China to pay for, such as public television subsidies.
"Somebody’s finally getting tough on Big Bird. Governor Romney's going to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring down the hammer on ‘Sesame Street,’ Mr. Obama said.
He continued his criticism that Mr. Romney’s tax cut will cost $5 trillion, saying Republicans put two wars and two tax cuts on the national credit card. “Now Mr. Romney wants another $5 trillion in tax cuts that he can’t pay for."
Mr. Romney insisted during the debate that his tax cut would not cost $5 trillion and denied that it would lower the overall tax rate for wealthy taxpayers.
Mr. Obama didn't repeat remarks he made earlier in the day in Virginia where he appeared to be targeting women’s votes by accusing Mr. Romney of planning to take the country backward on the availability of contraceptives.
"There’s nothing conservative about a government that prevents a woman from making her own health-care decisions," he said to listeners at George Mason University.
Among the politicians in the crowd on the Cleveland State University soccer field was U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) who is running for re-election in a district that now includes part of West Cleveland. Her opponent is Springfield Township resident Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said the new job numbers are far off from where they should be and criticized President Obama for trying to take credit for Ohio's economic growth.
"It's disappointing that President Obama keeps coming to Ohio claiming credit for things he didn't do. His message of more regulation, red tape and taxes as a path to economic prosperity makes as much sense as foot warmers on the beach and it doesn't resonate in Ohio,” Mr. Bennett said.
Contact Tom Troy at email@example.com or 419-724-6058.