MARIETTA, Ohio -- By Monday night, Paul Ryan will have crisscrossed the country in a whirlwind tour of seven battleground states.
But only one of those states for each of those three days will have hosted the man who wants to be the next vice president.
As the Republican congressman from Wisconsin said Friday night at a massive rally near Cincinnati, Ohio is “the lynchpin, the battleground of all battlegrounds.”
Just hours after leaving that rally, Mr. Ryan was in the opposite corner of the state at Marietta College today, seizing, as top of the ticket Mitt Romney did Friday night, on the words uttered by President Barack Obama that day while also campaigning in Ohio.
“In 2008, he appealed to our highest aspirations,” Mr. Ryan said. “Now he's appealing to our lowest fears. Just yesterday he was asking his supporters to vote out of revenge. Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote out of love of country.”
In Springfield on Friday, Mr. Obama ad-libbed to his often repeated campaign rally line, “Don't boo. Vote,” adding, "Voting is the best revenge.”
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Later in his Marietta speech, Mr. Ryan added, “Our veterans didn't fight for revenge. They fought for freedom.”
He wasted little time taking advantage of the fact that he was in Ohio coal country.
“Folks, I see your signs,” he said. “Livelihoods are at stake. Serious times require serious solutions.”
He said the nation doesn't have to “settle” for four more years of Mr. Obama.
“We're not just picking a president for four years,” Mr. Ryan said. “We're literally picking the trajectory of this country—the meaning of America, the kind of people that we're going to be, the kind of country we're going to give our kids and grandkids for at least a generation. That's the kind of election this is.”
He pointed to Friday's final jobs report before the election, which showed the economy added a better-than-expected 171,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate, however, ticked up a notch to 7.9 percent. That, he said, is again higher than the rate when Mr. Obama took office.
“The economy is limping long, growing at less than half the rate the president said it would grow at if only we passed his vaunted stimulus plan where we borrowed to spend all that money on special interest groups,” Mr. Ryan said.
“As General Motors said this week, Mitt Romney and Congressman Ryan seem to be living in a ‘parallel universe’ in this race’s final days,” said Obama campaign spokesman Jessica Kershaw. “Despite Ryan’s assertions in Ohio today, Romney would never work across the aisle as president. All he’s ever done is kowtow to the most extreme right-wing voices in his party.
“And Romney doesn’t have a pro-growth economic plan,” she said. “He’s got a tax plan that would raise middle class taxes to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and a jobs ‘plan’ that could actually cost us 2 million jobs over the next two years.”
The morning crowd at Marietta College paled in comparison to the estimated 30,000 at Mr. Romney's West Chester rally the night before. The campaign said Secret Service estimated the Marietta crowd at about 1,200, although the floor of gym was far from full.
The liberal arts college on the Ohio River has about 1,400 students, about 93 percent of whom receive some form of need-based financial assistance to help cover the annual $30,000 tuition bill.
Washington County easily went to John McCain four years ago, but the Romney campaign is concentrating on driving up turnout in traditionally Republican-friendly counties to get back to the margins that helped to carry President George W. Bush to re-election in 2004.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.