Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking to supporters during a campaign rally Wednesday at Marion Harding High School.
MARION, Ohio — When he made a stop at a diner on Wednesday between Tuesday’s campaign event in Dayton to his next one in Marion, an Ohioan told him an old joke that Vice President Joe Biden repeated.
“You’ve gone from datin’ Ohio to marryin’ Ohio,” Mr. Biden said. “I never thought of it that way.”
Joke or not, the courting of Ohio continued 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, one who favors the wealthy over the middle-class.
“This is not your 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 called 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 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 it means if Romney gets elected...,” he said to laughs. “He’s not going to be elected. You’re going to be OK. ... God, I shouldn’t be scaring children like this.”
When arguing that math doesn’t support Mr. Romney’s promise that his across-the-board 20 percent cut in income tax rates would not add to the deficit, Mr. Biden repeated something he said his mother used to say: “When it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”
“Man, this is one quacking duck,” he said.
In a 50-minute speech, he touted the Obama Administration’s taxpayer bailout out of the auto industry, accused both Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan of disavowing previous positions they’ve taken, and accused the Republican ticket of ignoring signs of an improving American economy for political gain.
But Romney spokesman Chris Maloney said, “Instead of laying out a second-term agenda or ideas for how to stop the recent loss in manufacturing jobs — Ohio lost more than 4,000 manufacturing jobs last month — he resorts to the same negative attacks that have come to define the President’s campaign and closing argument for re-election.”
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.
He left Ohio after the Marion visit, but Mr. Obama will pick up where he left off as he ends his two-day, rapid-fire tour of battleground states in Cleveland on Thursday night.
Sara Tuttle, a Democrat who lives in the city, said she would have been in the crowd Wednesday even if it had been a Republican candidate. The 22-year-old stay-at-home mom of two voted for Mr. Obama four years ago, and the passage of his signature health-care law has only increased her support.
“I have a sister who’s been a Type 1 diabetic since she was 8 years old,” she said. “With her, health care is such a big issue, because every job she has gone to she has been denied health care because of a pre-existing condition.”
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 614-221-0496.