Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks to the crowd Tuesday in Cuyahoga Falls.
The Plain Dealer/ Scott Shaw
CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — Mitt Romney shared some personal references in a rally before 12,000 people with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who added some of his trademark bluster as the Republican presidential nominee returned to the swing state to press his new advantage in some polls.
Mr. Romney said on Tuesday that he learned recently he had met one of two former Navy SEALs killed in the recent terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He praised the man he said he met by accident when he went to a neighbor’s Christmas party, which he and his wife thought was a neighborhood event advertised on a flyer that was distributed to their house.
“They were not in the consulate. They were in another facility across town. When they heard the consulate was under attack, they went to the consulate to the aid of their fellows. That’s the American spirit,”" Mr. Romney said. He addressed an outdoor rally at the Natatorium, a community recreational facility in this Summit County town.
Mr. Romney exulted in his performance a week ago in the first presidential debate, which has been credited with a sudden surge in polling that has put the challenger in a horse race with President Obama in Ohio, a crucial state for Mr. Romney to win to be able to assemble the 270 Electoral College votes necessary for election.
“I must admit I enjoyed the debate we had last week, and I was able to ask the President some of the questions people across the country have been wanting to ask,” Mr. Romney said.
One of those questions, he said, was why Mr. Obama focused on enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the so-called Obamacare — and spending $90 billion, according to Mr. Romney’s reckoning, on “green” energy projects.
He recited his list of economic statistics: 23 million looking for work, one in six in poverty, and 47 million receiving food stamps, up from 32 million at the start of Mr. Obama’s term.
“People are focused on big things. The President saying he’s focused on saving Big Bird is kind of a strange thing, it seems to me,” Mr. Romney said. “ ... I think people have heard what he had to say and it’s time for them to see him leave the White House and say good-bye.”
He joked that people chanting “four more years” should change their chant to “four more weeks.” The Romney crowd standing outside in the cold air obliged and broke into the chant of “four more weeks” several times. The Obama campaign said Mr. Romney told his audience “downright falsehoods” about creating jobs.
“Independent economists agree his plans would do nothing to create jobs, could slow our recovery, and could cost us 2 million jobs in the next two years,” said Danny Kanner, an Obama campaign spokesman. “He said he’d champion small business, but to pay for his $250,000 tax cuts for multimillionaires, he’d have to raise taxes on as many as 30 million small-business owners.
“The truth about Mitt Romney’s policies might be inconvenient for his politics, but their impact would be far worse for the middle-class families who would suffer under them if he were elected,” Mr. Kanner said.
Mr. Romney ran through his list of prescriptions for the economy and got a big cheer on his promise to emphasize domestic energy supplies. Natural-gas production is a rapidly growing industry in eastern Ohio.
He promised to put the nation on track to a balanced budget and said America’s low worldwide education ranking is “an embarrassment.” He said he would not cut the military, but that he would repeal Obamacare “and replace it with real reform.”
Mr. Christie made jokes about the Democrats, saying that what he heard out of the Democratic National Convention was that “government is the only thing we all belong to.”
“In my home state, we have more than our share of Democrats. Even in my state we’re taught this simple truth, we don't belong to government. Government belongs to us. The Constitution starts off, ‘we the people,’ not ‘we the government,’ ” Mr. Christie said.
Mr. Romney is to hit the campaign trail hard today in central Ohio, with stops planned in Mount Vernon and Delaware before he headlines a rally at the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Sidney. Mr. Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are to appear together in Lancaster, Ohio, on Friday, the day after Mr. Ryan is to debate Democratic Vice President Joe Biden in Danville, Ky.
The audience cheered loudly at each campaign promise and anti-Obama jibe, and several expressed cautious optimism about Mr. Romney's chances.
Jan Gaumer, 59, of nearby Aurora, Ohio, said she was convinced even before last week’s debate that Ohioans would elect him. She bought a pair of Mitt Romney oven mitts at $5 each with the slogan “Don't Get Burned.”
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