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MENTOR, Ohio — With Mitt Romney campaigning for swing-state New Hampshire’s four electoral votes, President Obama had Ohio to himself Saturday, predicting victory if his supporters get out to vote for him.
Mr. Obama thundered to a cheering crowd in Mentor High School east of Cleveland that he doesn’t plan to veer from the fight he’s waged for four years.
“The folks at the very top of this country, they don’t need a champion in Washington. They already have a seat at the table,” Mr. Obama said. “If the price of peace in Washington is cutting deals that will end up kicking students off financial aid, or getting rid of Planned Parenthood, or letting insurance companies discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, or eliminating health care for millions ... that’s not a price I’ll pay.
He said his vision includes everybody getting a shot at a great education and recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers. “Don’t tell me hiring more teachers won’t help grow this economy,” he said.
“We know this country can’t thrive, can’t succeed without a growing, strong middle class. America is always at its best when everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, and everybody’s playing by the same rules.”
The Romney campaign said Mr. Obama has “no record to run on and no vision for the future.
“President Obama is resorting to false, discredited attacks and a cynical closing message urging voters to choose ‘revenge.’ Mitt Romney wants to bring people together and he wants Ohioans to vote for love of country. He will deliver real change for a real recovery, creating 12 million new jobs with rising take-home pay and a better future for all Americans,” Chris Maloney, Romney campaign spokesman, said.
Obama campaign organizers said 4,010 people were in the high school gym and in an overflow space. The President spoke briefly in person to the overflow crowd.
“I’m confident we’re going to win, but only if you guys vote,” he told them, before entering the gym.
Ohio’s 18 electoral votes are viewed as more critical to Mr. Romney than to Mr. Obama because of the state’s history of having been carried by every successful GOP presidential candidate. Public polling available to the political site RealClearPolitics.com Saturday showed Mr. Obama with an average lead of 49.3 percent to 46.4 percent.
Mr. Romney campaigned in Ohio Friday and will be back in Ohio today and Monday — as will President Obama.
Romney running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin rallied supporters at Marietta College Saturday, while First Lady Michelle Obama campaigned at Kenyon College in Gambier and the Miami University of Ohio in Oxford. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, met with supporters in the Cleveland suburb of Parma on Saturday night.
In addition to campaigning in New Hampshire, Mr. Romney campaigned Saturday in Colorado and Iowa.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) filled in for Mr. Romney, touring Zanesville, Columbus, Ohio State University, Ashland, Bucyrus, and Fremont on Saturday.
In Mentor, Mr. Obama attacked Mr. Romney for radio and TV ads that imply — over the objections from General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC — that GM and Chrysler plan to move jobs to China.
“I understand Governor Romney has had a tough time here in Ohio because he was against saving the auto industry. It’s hard to run away from that position when you’re on videotape saying, ‘Let’s let Detroit go bankrupt,’ ” Mr. Obama said.
“This raises an essential part of what your choice is all about. When you elect a president, you don’t know what kind of emergencies you may have, what problems he or she may have to deal with. But you do want to be able to trust your president,” Mr. Obama said.
Outside the rally as crowds arrived, Mentor residents Gregg Boehlefeld, 57, a real estate broker, and Tom Lorek, 73, a retired union newspaper printer, manned a golf cart with a sign decrying Mr. Obama as “anti-Catholic,” and “pro-abortion.” Others held signs protesting the deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi.
“We’re just voicing our opinion. I’m not happy with the way the country’s going,” Mr. Lorek said. “I’m disappointed. Six trillion dollars — I think Mickey Mouse could have done the job this guy’s done.”
Obama supporter Alexandra Easton, 75, a retired bookkeeper from nearby Willoughby Hills, who stood in line hoping to get inside the rally, disagreed.
“The Republicans would have done the same thing,” she said of the deficit spending.
“They couldn’t prevent the recession; how could they fix it? What would they have done, lower taxes for the wealthy? That didn’t work.”
Leigh Perrino, 30, an expectant mother due to deliver in five weeks who was in line to hear Mr. Obama, said the President is not anti-Catholic.
“If you read the Catholic social doctrine, Christianity and Catholicism are about taking care of people,” she said. “There are a lot of Catholics that support Obama.”
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.