Powell, Ohio (CNN) - With two days to go until the start of the Republican convention, and following a week of distractions, Mitt Romney tried to get the focus back on the economy and President Barack Obama as he teamed up with running mate Paul Ryan at a campaign event Saturday in the crucial battleground state of Ohio.
In front of a crowd that numbered in the thousands, the GOP challenger took the attack to the president, saying that Obama has not lived up to his promises.
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"I know the president's going to go to that convention. He's going to have all sorts of marvelous things to say. I mean, I could almost read his speech now. … It'll just be, it'll be filled with promises to tell people how wonderful things are. Of course, they'll have to contrast that with what they know they're experiencing," Romney said.
"But as he lays out all of these wonderful things he's going to do, people are just going to stop and say, but how are you going to do something different than last time? They've experienced the last four years; they know if they re-elect him, they'll get four more years of the same. It is not his words that people have to listen to - it is his action and his record, and if they look at that, they'll take him out of the office and put people into the office that will actually get America going again."
The morning rally in Powell, just north of Columbus, followed a week where the Romney campaign veered off-message, first by the controversial comments on rape and abortion from Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, and then by Romney's comments at a rally Friday in Michigan, when touting his roots there, he said, "Ann was born at Henry Ford Hospital, I was born at Harper Hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
Those comments quickly sparked a controversy in the media and overshadowed the rest of the Michigan campaign event. A fringe of conservative Republicans continue to believe that Obama was not born in the United States. Those believers are referred to as "birthers."
In an interview hours later, Romney denied his reference to a birth certificate was anything more than simply homecoming humor.
"No, no, not a swipe," Romney said in a CBS interview, referring to Obama and the conspiracy theories about his birth. "I've said throughout the campaign that and before, there's no question about where he was born."
Romney continued, "He was born in the U.S. This was fun about us and coming home, and humor - you know, we've got to have a little humor in the campaign as well."
There was no mention of the controversy at Saturday's rally, other than the sight of a plane flying high above the event site with a sign that read, "American is better then birtherism"
The Akin comments on rape put the abortion issue back in the spotlight, which probably won't help the GOP ticket as it tries to make up a deficit with women voters. That may be one reason why the former Massachusetts governor included some lines not normally used in his stump speech.
"Just a word to the women entrepreneurs out there. If we become, if we become president and vice president, we want to speak to you, we want to help you. Women in this country are more likely to start businesses than men. Women need our help," Romney said.
Ryan introduced Romney to the audience, and during his comments he also directed his firepower at Obama.
"The president came into office promising to lower the unemployment rate. 'It would never get above 8% if we just pass this stimulus legislation.' It's been above 8% for 42 months. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts went down under Mitt Romney's leadership," said Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin.
Outside the rally site, about 20 to 25 protesters held signs and chanted, "Hands off Medicare" and "Ryan go home," in reference to the House Budget Committee chairman's controversial proposals to alter Medicare.
The popular government health insurance program for retirees was on the minds of those attending the rally, as was the economy.
"The economy and Medicare. It's both. The economy is going down hill. If we don't something, we're in big trouble," said Belva Call, a Florida retiree who still spends half her year in her native Columbus.
"The most important thing on my mind is the economy, the debt we're running up under Obama," said Dennis Irvin of Worthington, Ohio.
"A lot of people have based their retirement around the assurance of Medicare, that it will continue to exist. The fact is it won't continue to exist for a very long time unless we do something serious to reform them, and I believe Paul Ryan has the answer to how to do that."
Ohio is crucial to both campaigns, and Ryan played up his Midwestern roots, saying "It's good to be back here in Big Ten country."
Two surveys out Thursday indicated the Buckeye State remains a hotly contested battleground. According to the Ohio Poll by the University of Cincinnati, 49% of likely voters supported the president, with 46% backing Romney, basically a dead heat. A Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times survey also released Thursday indicated Obama with a 50%-44% lead over Romney.
The Saturday stop in Powell brings to eight the number of trips Romney's made to Ohio since the start of the general election in April. Obama has been to the state seven times since then, with his last visit on Tuesday in Columbus.
Ohio's 18 electoral votes are expected to be pivotal to the 2012 presidential election. President George W. Bush sealed his 2004 re-election by narrowly winning the state over the Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry. In 2008, Obama took the state by 5 percentage points over Sen. John McCain. But the GOP won big in the state in the 2010 midterm elections, taking back the governor's office and five House seats held by Democrats.
One other note: Romney was introduced by Ohio's Republican governor, John Kasich, to the song "Footloose," apparently the first time the 1980s hit was played at a Romney rally.
And Kasich was ribbed by Romney and Ryan for the bright green golf shirt that he was wearing.
This is what happened under GWB and the repubs...worst job losses EVER except for the Great Depression, investments tanked, auto industry tanked, Iraq and Afganistan an ongoing horrible loss of innocent lives with no way out, no Osama Bin Laden in sight, international disgust with America, jobs sent overseas, rich getting richer and middle class getting poorer, foreclosures, more uninsured people, and taxpayers and people with insurance paying higher and higher prices to bridge the gap, education suffering, and the list goes on. Obama has had not one ounce of help from the republicans from before he even took office. The CEO's are making more money and corporations getting richer, but they are supporting Romney........hmmmmmmmm. Please vote for the President. He has taken us so far.
Their message is only anti-Obama, not specifics on what they have to offer. Pathetic, almost un-American at this level of politics.
Better tell the illegal aliens what's coming. No sense in hurting their feelings later.
"Back on message" which is? He doesn't get it. I want to know why he pays a smaller percentage of tax on his income than the average blue collar worker. Also want to know why he chose a VP who is hooked on a work of fiction by an atheist beloved by middle schoolers. Could it be because this book portrays a successful man who thinks the poor are lazy and ungrateful and need to be taught a lesson. If Romney wins, kiss goodbye to SS and medicaire
Regardless of what Romney says or doesn't say, how could anyone in their right mind vote for Obama? Really... Where have you been the last 3+ years?
Mitt is an empty suit I hear a hollow ringing sound – never to be trusted.
I'm in no position to know whether or not anybody has asked Romney to show his birth certificate, but I'm positive *lots* of people (many of them fellow Republicans) have asked him to show his pre-2010 tax returns. Maybe his refusal is just another example of Romney's peculiar sense of humor . . . though I think most of us feel that his claim that he has nothing to hide is a joke.
Todd Akin only has a 98% rating from the National RIght to Life Organization. Paul Ryan has a 100% rating. What did Paul Ryan do to deserve that extra 2 %?
wonder how many republians would have said this is a God's sign against the Democrats if it had been the D's convention???????????????
A big sign of defeat for romney/ryan when they have to keep on re-introducing themselves...
There he goes again – "maah-ve-lous." Mr. Out-of-Touch.
The statement that Mr. Romney makes that commenting about his birth certificate was not a swipe at President Obama is either a lie or he is completely delusional. I'm done– I am voting for President Obama, for sure (I did not in 2008).
I thought the later part of his ridiculous comment was the "we"! Who the heck is "we", Mitt? Your "we" certainly doesn't include me. He and his co-partner in divisiveness disgust me.
Back on message:Bring back the old Bush policies,is the only message Romney has to offer.
The message of hate, exclusion, disdain for science, feeding ignorant people lies w/o regard to the truth!!! I'd say they're in mid-season form!
Yes, the operative words here are: "Those comments quickly sparked a controversy IN THE MEDIA..." Didn't spark much anywhere else, of course. 'Cept maybe a few smiles here and around. Those polls are getting you guys in the media a little anxious, eh? Is it getting a little hot around your beloved's home fire?
Yeah, here's Willard's plan: Hide all the voting booths from all non-GOP voters. That's the only way they can even hope to possibly win -- by cheating.
What message. Release the tax returns.
It's The Economy, Mr. President. Your Economy, Mr. President.
Just because Mitt wants to get back on his message, whatever that is, doesn't mean that people don't still want answers on the questions he won't answer.
Romney's message: trust me. I know what I am doing. I can't tell you what I am doing or plan to do. If I figure out what I am doing or plan to do I will tell you. You will know after the election.
I expect Isaac is coming home to roost on the GOP convention. He will grind all their gaudy pretenses down to sand and waves. Enjoy!
same negative spews but not a concrete thing to say about what he will do as president. hey mitt – tired of your lies just to get votes.
Stop reading CNN only and you might actually hear what their message is. I will help you a little though, here goes: 44 months of unemployment over 8 percent with billions wasted on jobs that never materialized, the majority of states reported higher unemployment last month. Trillions of dollars more in debt since Obama took office. Serious issues with a rouge nation about to go to war with one of our ally's, a grossly mismanaged government that we are seeing headlines on every day, borrowing money from nations that aren't friendly to us then having the Fed print money like it's free to float a failing economy. I could go on but you can chew on that for a while, it should keep you busy. You can disregard all the college transcript, birth certificate, tax return BS, those aren't issues. The list above is. See you in November.
On message, does that mean that when Mr. Obama hits back Mitt will decide that Obama's gone too far? He talked about himself as a job creator until he was hit with the Bain Cap fiasco. Then he tried to cast himself as a job creator until he was hit with the fact that MA was 47th in job creation during his tenure. So get on message and Mr. Obama will knock him of message with the truth about Mittttyyy's failures.