Ryan begins final sprint across Ohio to woo vote

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at a campaign event, Saturday in Marietta, Ohio.
Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at a campaign event, Saturday in Marietta, Ohio.

MARIETTA, Ohio — As he seeks to close the deal with voters during the final three days of the campaign, Paul Ryan will have crisscrossed the country in a whirlwind tour of seven battleground states.

But only one state will have been host three times during those days to the Republican who wants to be the next vice president.

As he put it Friday night during a rally near Cincinnati: Ohio is “the linchpin, the battleground of all battlegrounds.”

Just hours after leaving that rally, Republican Mitt Romney’s running mate was in the opposite corner of the state at Marietta College Saturday morning, seizing on the words uttered by President Obama while also campaigning in Ohio Friday.

“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, Mr. Obama ad-libbed to his often repeated campaign rally line, “Don't boo. Vote,” adding, "Voting is the best revenge.”

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 being in Ohio coal country.

“Folks, I see your signs,” he said. “Livelihoods are at stake. Serious times require serious solutions.”

He pointed to Friday’s jobs report, the last one before the election, which showed the economy added a better-than-expected 171,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate, however, ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 7.9 percent.

“The economy is limping along, 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.

The campaign said Secret Service estimated the Marietta crowd at about 1,200, although the floor of the gym was far from full.

“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.”

Washington County easily went to John McCain four years ago, but the Romney campaign is concentrating on driving up turnout in these traditionally Republican-friendly counties to get back to the margins that helped to carry President George W. Bush to re-election in 2004.

Mr. Ryan will be back in Ohio to rally in Mansfield today and in Youngstown on Monday. The top of the ticket will return to the Buckeye State for a rally in Cleveland today and will then seek to close the deal with a rally in Columbus Monday night.

Jonathan Lord, a 21-year-old petroleum engineering major about to vote in his first presidential election, believes the influence of coal will help to carry Mr. Romney to victory in the region Tuesday.

“That influence is a big part of, especially around here and in the Appalachian Valley,” he said.

“Romney is for coal. I know Obama is definitely against it. There's a war on coal with Obama. ... There are regulations from this administration that are hindering growth as far as natural resources of the United States.''

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.