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.
If Obama's broken promises and is a bad president, so be it. But we all have to consider the alternative... is MITT ROMNEY. Not even Republicans like mitt romney. He is untrustworthy in every single sense of the word, is just going to make the rich richer with ridiculous supply-side, trickle down economics, he's a disaster regarding foreign-affairs and he likes to speak about Obama's failed plans when he has no plans he's willing to speak about.
I'm sorry republicans, you have to realize this is a functional non-starter. "Generic Republican" has a better rating than Mitt. You could have picked anyone with actual substance and won. John Huntsman would probably already be picking out wallpaper for the whitehouse. Mitt should be considered absolutely unelectable.
trickle down,lower taxes for the rich,deregulate every thing ,war –heard it before
the red states drying up. maybe some trickle down economics or faith basic charity will help. Lets ask Mitt. answer – let there be an orderly bankruptcy.
keep voting GOP suckers.
and by the way climate change is a hoax. Got to be Fox told us so.
The problem with these guys making this election about the economy is when the president decides to make it about the economy, it will make most of us know we need to vote for Obama.
his message? Mitt has done NOTHING but flip flop or NOT answer any questions or explain his plans and hide his money off shore. good grief, the same old same old
What is that message again? We stopped the President at every turn. We worked hard to make him look bad. We have fixed the election laws in our favor. We are putting up the best flip-flopping guy we could find. We can't loose. Because, you can't see what we are doing. And you bought it hook, line and sinker. Oh and add a pinch of birtherism. Hey that Texas judge may not be to far off. When America wakes up something might happen. But. it wont be what he thinks.
The message. Let's see. What was the message again?
"Vote for me because I always get what I want?" That message?
Quarlesc, google "historical stock market", then google, "corporate profits at all time high", then google, "Paul Ryan 2009 stimulus speech", then google, Mitt Romney flip flop. The joke is on you buddy. Your lame comments are getting a lot of laughs!
What message??? He has more flip flops than a shoe store?? He panders to whatever group he happens to be speaking to. He's no better than a snake oil salesman!!!! Obama 2012!! Sorry you right wing, narrow minded freaks!!
Gosh. Mitt always panders to such 'diverse' crowds....
Hey Mitt...what is your plan? Until you share it with the public, how can you get back on message? You don't have one other than, "I'm super rich and the rules don't apply to me." Where're your tax returns? Your father had no religious problem setting the stage to release 12 years. Why not tell us the truth: Revealing my tax returns will prove that I'm a tax cheat that likes to hide my money in offshore accounts, gain $100M in an IRA, and I committed voter fraud in MA because my primary residence was in CA.
I don't trust this man I rather vote for Obama
Obama is exactly like Bush's third term. Obama kept the Bush schedule in Iraq while expanding the war in Afghanistan to the Taliban and making it unwinnable. Later Obama granted al-Qaeda soverigty in Libya, while expamding discressionary spending by 84%.
Message???? Sc ..... rew the middle class and feed them fish heads? He better learn to help the middle class and worry less about preserving the Bush tax cuts.
Where are the tax returns? What are you hiding? Obama released his birth certificate to satisfy the birther nuts. When will you release your returns? They must be pretty bad to deny even those of your own party access. And what is up with the Morman belief only married women can enter heaven? Any woman considering voting for you really needs to take a close look at the radical beliefs of the conservative Republicans that are funding your campaign and your flip floping on important issues.
My opinion is on track. My plan to vote is on track. I hope the defeat felt by the republican party, is resounding and decisive.
Voting for Romney is like "Voting Rich but Living Poor".for those who are middle and lower class.
We know the main Romney/Ryan campaign message: "Survival of the Richest"
Back on message? Romney should be honest with the American people and let them know his war advisors are the Bush neo-cons. They are already planning their wars and invasions. Just kick Grandma out on the street and we can build a bigger military and start nation building all over again. There are no plans in the GOP to cut the deficit or debt.
The message is:
All for one and....more for one.
He's doing a fine job getting his message out. He's against abortion, wants to give tax breaks to the 1% though they have tax havens, give out coupons for 50% off of Romney Care, cut pell grants, against gay marriage, and invest in American energy so his republican buddies can get rich off it at our expense. Yes, we get your message Mitt.
Mark in Seattle
Wouldn't it be nice to know? Then again maybe not. Extension of Bush's tax cuts , plus more tax cuts for the wealthy
cancellation of ACA , no birth control pills for women ........Romney is truly a liar and yet he manages to fool the man in the street.How tiresome it is to hear him smear Obama.
12,000,000 new jobs. Baloney. He'll will be raising taxes on the middle class and lowering taxes on the rich.He will destroy medicare and social security. Then the GOP fantasy of drip down will come into play. Except, all the money saved by the rich will drip down to the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and tax free shelters. Romney has the plans that show how it works.
another rich, clueless frat boy who feels he's entitled to the White House. it boggles my mind he's within 3 points of the President in polling. we had 8 years of this already and look how great that worked out... c'mon America, don't do this...