LIMA, Ohio — Fighting a hoarse voice, President Obama pressed his key points in a day-long campaign swing that ended on Friday at Lima Senior High School, where he portrayed himself as the champion of affordable education, investment in new technology, and protector of hard-won, health-care benefits against well-funded special interests.
Mr. Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney resumed their political preoccupation with Ohio after several days’ hiatus from campaigning to address the devastating effects of superstorm Sandy.
“They spent millions to try to stop us from reforming health care; spent millions trying to stop us from reforming Wall Street; spent millions trying to stop us from reforming our student loan programs. They engineered a strategy of gridlock in Congress, refusing to compromise even on ideas that they used to support,” Mr. Obama said.
“What they’re counting on now is that you’re going to be so fed up, so worn down by all the squabbling, all the arguing in Washington, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you’re just going to give up, walk away, and let them go ahead and keep their power,” Mr. Obama said to a wildly cheering crowd of 3,800 people in the gym and in an overflow space. “They’re betting on cynicism. Ohio, my bet is on you.”
The President’s voice was slightly more hoarse than normal, the result of a tough schedule of stump speeches, including the first speech of the day in an unheated livestock exhibition barn in Hilliard, Ohio.
He praised the free-market system, but qualified that by saying, “We also believe that the market works, our economy grows, jobs are created, people succeed when we give everybody a good education, we give everybody the chance to learn new skills, when we invest in research and medical breakthroughs and new technologies.”
He expanded that list to include affordable health insurance, Medicare, and Social Security, and regulations to protect children from pollution and consumers from being taken advantage of by credit-card companies and mortgage lenders.
He blasted as dishonest Mr. Romney’s radio and TV ads saying General Motors and Chrysler are shipping jobs to China, when Chrysler is actually adding jobs in Toledo.
“Companies like GM and Chrysler, they put a lot of time and effort and money into building up their brand, and letting Americans know that the American auto industry is back, and we don’t want suddenly a bunch of ads saying stuff that’s not true,” Mr. Obama said, sounding like an owner of GM, which he is in a way, since the government acquired stock in GM as part of the auto industry rescue.
“You don't scare hard-working Americans just to scare up some votes,” he said.
He broke away from his prepared speech to acknowledge the Lima Senior High School marching band that was punctuating his remarks with drum rolls.
The Romney campaign stuck by its claim that American automakers are expanding production overseas.
“The facts are clear: despite his false and misleading attacks, President Obama took the auto companies into bankruptcy. His mismanagement of the process has exposed taxpayers to a $25 billion loss. Under President Obama, we have lost 586,000 manufacturing jobs and the unemployment rate is higher than when he took office. Mitt Romney has a plan to strengthen American manufacturing, create 12 million new jobs in America, and deliver a real recovery,” said Romney campaign spokesman Chris Maloney.
He said he was inspired by heroism shown in the response to the superstorm, as well as “the leaders of different parties working together to fix what's broken.”
Mr. Obama canceled a Youngstown campaign trip on Monday to focus on the effects of superstorm Sandy and made his first return to Ohio on Friday.
Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will campaign Sunday in Fremont, with pop singer Jason Mraz. Tickets are available for the the Bidens’ Fremont rally at campaign field offices until 9 p.m. today, while they last, the campaign said. The offices are 225 E. State St., Fremont; 131-A Maple St., Port Clinton, and 112. S Washington St., Tiffin.
Mr. Obama will return for rallies in Ohio today in Mentor, in Cincinnati on Sunday, and in Columbus on Monday. Mr. Romney will rally Sunday evening in Cleveland and on Monday in Columbus.
Mr. Obama rallied with a crowd of 4,000 in the athletic center of Springfield High School, part of his campaign's effort to blunt support for Mr. Romney coming out of rural and suburban Ohio. Clark County went to Republican John McCain in a tight race in 2008.
“We’re on the move, Ohio,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ve made real progress these last four years, but the reason all of you are here today, the reason I’m here today, is we know there's more work to do.”
Columbus bureau chief Jim Provance contributed to this report.
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