CUYAHOGA FALLS,Ohio - Cautiously optimistic about his chances in the election seemed to be the mood of supporters of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney while they waited for him to take the stage Tuesday with a large rally here in this eastern Ohio city.
Mr. Romney is back in Ohio for five appearances this week, including this event in front of an outdoor crowd of thousands, where he was to be joined on the stage by Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey who earlier in the day campaigned at Lordstown. Country singer Jo Dee Messina entertained with her band.
Ohio is seen as newly competitive, if polls are to be believed.
Supporters who flocked to the outdoor event at the Natatorium, a community recreation center, sounded moderately confident that Mr. Romney will prevail.
Jan Gaumer, 59, of nearby Aurora, said she was convinced even before last week's dominating debate performance by Mr. Romney that Ohioans would elect him. She bought a pair of Mitt Romney oven mittens at $5 each. They bear the slogan "Don't Get Burned." It was chilly enough that Ms. Gaumer was wearing the campaign souvenirs for warmth.
"I think he'll create a better business-friendly environment. I think his business acumen will play well with his managerial skills. The man we have in the White House just doesn't have it," Ms. Gaumer said. She doesn't trust polls, so isn't impressed by the apparent shift in Mr. Romney's favor since the debate; she thought the public was already moving in Mr. Romney's favor.
"I just have a feeling people are becoming a little more educated this time," Ms. Gaumer said.
Erin West, 27, works in the emerging hydraulic fracturing - fracking - field setting up drilling units. She hopes Mr. Romney wins for a number of reasons but especially because she thinks he will be more supportive of domestic energy.
"I believe in the things Mitt Romney believes in for America. The middle class has been suffering under Obama and they can't take it anymore," Ms. West said. She has a sign in her yard and said she believes the electorate in Ohio is evenly split. "It's not going to be a blowout," she said.
Danny Lewis, 57, of Medina, Ohio, a retired Coast Guard officer, wore a T-shirt with the slogan, "Count On Coal." He said of President Obama, "I consider him and his EPA basically anti-coal."
"My big issue is sticking with the Constitution," Mr. Lewis said, adding that he doesn't agree with the Democratic Party's position on abortion.
He's being cautious about the election.
"I think it could go 50-50 either way. If all of the conservatives get out and vote we wouldn't have a problem," Mr. Lewis said.
His wife, Penney Lewis, 56, a homemaker, wore a button with Mr. Romney's picture and the words, "The Next President of the United States." She's more confident than her husband because of last week's debate. "I hope a lot of people changed their minds," Mrs.Lewis said.
Ron Robart, the mayor of Cuyahoga Falls, recalled that a similarly large crowd helped propel George Bush to a second term as president in 2006. Cuyahoga Falls has about 50,000 residents. Cuyahoga Falls is in Summit County, which went 59 percent for President Obama four years ago.