AVON LAKE, Ohio — Presidential GOP candidate Mitt Romney promised “real change” if elected and also touted his five-point economic plan while speaking Monday before almost 3,000 people gathered at Avon Lake High School.
While talking up the economy and his plans to help businesses grow with lower taxes, Mr. Romney also asked those in the western Cleveland suburb to keep in mind the Americans on the East Coast in the path of Hurricane Sandy. He urged them to donate aid to assist people who could be harmed by the storm.
“There’s one more thing I want to mention to you — you with full hearts and clear eyes can see what is happening across the country right now. And on the Eastern Coast of our nation, a lot of people are enduring some very difficult times. And our hearts and our prayers go to them as we think about how tough it is going to be. I don’t think there’s been a hurricane in Ohio in a long time," Mr. Romney said. “But this hurricane is going to cause a lot of damage across the country and hurt a lot of families. ... And so I’d like to ask you who are here today to think about making a contribution to the Red Cross or another relief agency, to be of help if you possibly can in any way you can imagine and help those that are in harm’s way.”
He added: “This looks like a time when we need to come together, all across the country, even here in Ohio.”
Prior to Mr. Romney’s remarks, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) told the crowd that the Republican candidate would be better for the U.S. auto industry. Mr. Romney largely focused on economic issues during his address, including his much-touted five-point economic plan of taking advantage of all forms of energy, furthering exports and trade, training for workers, a balanced budget, and championing small business.
Mr. Portman’s auto-industry comments were refuted by Obama campaign officials.
“Senator Portman looked straight into voters’ eyes and falsely claimed Mitt Romney would have saved the auto industry,” said a statement from Danny Kanner, a spokesman for the Obama campaign. “That’s just not true — when it mattered most, Romney turned his back on the industry and more than one million jobs up and down the supply chain.
“Then Romney said he’d cut taxes for everyone and save Medicare — but he’d raise middle-class taxes to pay for $250,000 tax cuts for multimillionaires and end the Medicare guarantee by turning it into a voucher system. If middle-class families can’t trust Mitt Romney to tell them the truth now, how can they ever trust he’d tell them the truth as president?”
Added Jerome Williams, president of the United Auto Workers Local 2000, which represents workers at Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, “If the President hadn’t supported the auto industry and [instead] let it fail, there’s no telling where we’d be [now],” he said.
Mr. Romney singled out the high school students in the audience, telling them, “I’m going to make sure people coming out of college are going to have good jobs.” Mr. Romney also told the students they were being burdened by excessive government spending.
“It’s immoral for us to keep spending what we don’t have,” he said.
The former Massachusetts governor also pledged to work in a bipartisan manner if elected.
“I’m going to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats,” he said. “I’m going to find common ground.”
Roberta Krueger, who attended the Avon Lake event, said it was her first time seeing Mr. Romney in person and said she intends to vote for him.
“I'm worried about Obamacare,” she said. “I’m worried what that will do to our health-care system. I’m worried what it will do to our taxes.”
Many in the audience were students at Avon Lake High School.
Matt Forte, 17, won’t be old enough to cast a ballot next week.
“If I was able to vote, I’d vote for [Mr. Romney],” he said. “I think he would really improve and help America grow.”
A poll of likely Ohio voters commissioned by The Blade and the Ohio Newspaper Organization, released Sunday, found Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama in a dead heat, tied at 49 percent each, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Mr. Romney concluded his remarks by telling the crowd, “My guess is if Ohio votes me in as president, I’ll be the next President of the United States.”
Contact Kate Giammarise at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.