President blisters foe’s ‘real change’

11/5/2012
BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
President Obama urges supporters at a rally at the University of Cincinnati to move ‘forward’ with him. About 13,500 turned out for the event Sunday.
President Obama urges supporters at a rally at the University of Cincinnati to move ‘forward’ with him. About 13,500 turned out for the event Sunday.

CINCINNATI — Stevie Wonder summed up Pres­i­dent Obama’s key mes­sage Sun­day night by add­ing two lines to the be­gin­ning of his hit song “Su­per­sti­tion:” “We’re on the right track. We can’t turn back.”

Mr. Obama sought to seal the deal in a key city in a key bat­tle­ground state, urg­ing an es­ti­mated 13,500 in the Univer­sity of Cin­cin­nati’s Fifth Third Arena to move “for­ward” with him and not to fall for the “real change” that op­po­nent Mitt Rom­ney claims to of­fer.

He re­acted to his Re­pub­li­can op­po­nent’s claim on the cam­paign trail that Mr. Obama has burned too many bridges to work with Con­gress while tough de­ci­sions lie ahead.

“If the price of peace in Wash­ing­ton is cut­ting deals that kick stu­dents off of fi­nan­cial aid, or get­ting rid of fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood, or let­ting in­sur­ance com­pa­nies dis­crim­i­nate against peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, or elim­i­nat­ing health care for mil­lions of Med­ic­aid [re­cip­i­ents] who are poor, or el­derly, or dis­abled, then that’s a price I'm not will­ing to pay,” Mr. Obama said.

“That's not bi­par­ti­san­ship,” he said. “That’s not change. That’s sur­ren­der to the same sta­tus quo that has hurt too many fam­i­lies for too long. I’m not ready to give up on that fight. ... I hope you aren't ei­ther, Ohio.”

Four years ago, Mr. Obama was on the same cam­pus on the Sun­day night be­fore the elec­tion to close out his Ohio cam­paign. This year he will end his Ohio cam­paign to­day at Na­tion­wide Arena in Co­lum­bus with singer Bruce Spring­steen.

Ar­gu­ing that Mr. Rom­ney's “real change” is a re­pack­ag­ing of failed pol­i­cies from the George W. Bush era, Mr. Obama said Mr. Rom­ney, then a Senate can­di­date from Mas­sa­chu­setts, crit­i­cized as job-kill­ing the pol­i­cies of Demo­cratic Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, who raised taxes on the wealthy.

“Turns out his math was just as bad back then as it is now, be­cause by the end of Pres­i­dent Clin­ton’s sec­ond term, Amer­ica had cre­ated 22 mil­lion new jobs, in­comes were up, pov­erty was down, and our def­i­cit be­came the big­gest sur­plus in his­tory ... ” he said.

“Now, the other guy’s ideas were put to the test also, be­cause af­ter Pres­i­dent Clin­ton we had eight years in which we tried giv­ing big tax cuts to the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans, we tried giv­ing in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, and oil com­pa­nies, and Wall Street a free ride to do what­ever they pleased,” Mr. Obama said. “And all we got was fall­ing in­comes, and record def­i­cits, and the slow­est job growth in 50 years, and an eco­nomic cri­sis that we're still work­ing our way out of.”

Both cam­paigns are vy­ing heav­ily for Ham­il­ton County, a swing county that went for Mr. Obama four years ago by roughly 30,000 out of about 430,000 votes cast.

Pres­i­dent Bush won the county by roughly 23,000 votes in 2004, and Mr. Rom­ney is count­ing on du­pli­cat­ing Mr. Bush’s per­for­mance in or­der to carry bat­tle­ground Ohio in 2012.

Much of the rest of the south­west­ern cor­ner of the state is ex­pected to be firmly in Mr. Rom­ney’s camp. On Fri­day night, the for­mer Mas­sa­chu­setts gov­er­nor led a rally that his cam­paign es­ti­mated at 30,000, a record for his cam­paign, in ex­tremely friendly GOP ter­ri­tory in West Chester about 30 miles to the north.

Mr. Rom­ney ral­lied in Cleve­land Sun­day, an­other ex­am­ple of the im­por­tance of Ohio's 18 elec­toral votes, while both run­ning mates, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden and Wis­con­sin Con­gress­man Paul Ryan, also cam­paigned in the state.

Such last-minute cam­paign­ing is lost on the roughly 20 per­cent of the state’s nearly 8 mil­lion reg­is­tered vot­ers who’ve al­ready cast their bal­lots.

Sec­re­tary of State Jon Husted re­ported that, as of Fri­day, more than 1.6 mil­lion Ohio­ans had cast their bal­lots in per­son or by mail, and that was be­fore fi­nal week­end early vot­ing. In the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, that was the bus­i­est early vot­ing pe­riod.

Most polls show the race to be tight but trend­ing to­ward the Demo­cratic pres­i­dent.

Jon An­gerer, a Univer­sity of Cin­cin­nati ac­count­ing ju­nior, was in the Obama crowd with his girl­friend, Ginny Sha­fer, a ju­nior in ed­u­ca­tion, even though both sup­port Mr. Rom­ney. Ms. Sha­fer has al­ready voted, and Mr. An­gerer plans to do so on Tues­day.

“Num­bers don’t lie,” Mr. An­gerer said. “There's fis­cal data be­hind Barack Obama’s pre­vi­ous four years as pres­i­dent. There needs to be a change, be­cause oth­er­wise we're go­ing to in­herit a mas­sive amount of debt.”

Janet Douglas, 54, a bank loan-clos­ing spe­cial­ist, is firmly in the Pres­i­dent’s cor­ner. “I think he rep­resents my in­ter­ests as a mid­dle-class in­di­vid­ual,” she said. “He’s go­ing to look out for us be­cause of­ten­times we're over­looked in terms of health care, as­sis­tance, So­cial Se­cu­rity, and things of that mat­ter ... [Mr. Rom­ney] has to­tally dif­fer­ent po­si­tions on ev­ery­thing ... from his prior po­si­tions.”

Con­tact Jim Pro­vance at:

jpro­vance@the­blade.com

or 614-221-0496.