MARION, Ohio -- When he made a stop at a diner on his way from his last campaign event in Dayton to the next in Marion, an Ohioan told him an old joke that Vice President Joe Biden repeated today.
“You've gone from datin' Ohio to marryin' Ohio,'' Mr. Biden said. “I never thought of it that way.”
The courting of Ohio continued today as both Mr. Biden and the Republican who wants his job, Paul Ryan, rallied for the critical Ohio vote — Mr. Biden in Marion and Mr. Ryan in Cleveland.
Mr. Biden set out to portray Mitt Romney as too extreme an alternative to President Obama.
“This is not you father's Republican Party...,'' he said. “This is a different breed of cat... This isn't even Mitt Romney's father's Republican Party...massive cuts in spending, particularly in entitlements... and on the other side massive increases in tax breaks for the very wealthy.
“And all of a sudden they're walking away from that the last three or four weeks...,'' Mr. Biden said. “That must come as a shock to all those guys he debated 20 times on the stage out there (during GOP primaries). It came as a shock to me.”
He spoke to a crowd of about 1,500 at Marion Harding High School, whose sports teams are The Presidents in honor of hometown President Warren G. Harding. The scandal-plagued Republican died in office in 1923, and his tomb is nearby.
This marked the only stop during their collective four days on the ground in the all-important battleground of Ohio that Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden will have made to a county that the President did not carry in 2008. Republican John McCain carried 54 percent of Marion County's vote even as he lost the city of Marion.
The Obama campaign hopes to blunt Mr. Romney's support coming out of rural counties in a must-win state on Nov. 6. Ohioans have been voting since Oct. 2, and a bus was waiting outside the school to deliver registered voters to the local early voting center.
At one point during Mr. Biden's speech, a baby cried out.
“I don't blame that baby for crying. She just realized what if means if Romney gets elected...,'' he said to laughs. “He's not going to be elected. You're going to be okay...God, I shouldn't be scaring children like this.”
In a 50-minute speech, he touted the administration's taxpayer bailout out of the auto industry, accused both Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan of disavowing prior positions they've taken, and accused the Republican ticket of ignoring signs of an improving American economy for political gain.
Mr. Biden spent Tuesday night in Springfield after his rare joint campaign appearance with Mr. Obama earlier in the day in nearby Dayton. In between, he delivered pizza to a local field office. While at the hotel, he chatted with a woman staying there temporarily after her home burned down.
Mr. Biden was to leave Ohio after the Marion visit. On Thursday, Mr. Obama will end his two-day rapid-fire tour of battleground states in Cleveland while Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan rally in Cincinnati, the Columbus area, and Defiance.