(CNN) - Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, argued Sunday the swing state's relatively low unemployment rate is a result of President Barack Obama's economic policies rather than the work of current Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican.
"Ohio is coming back, and we're grateful for that. But the president deserves, in my judgment, the lion's share of the credit," Strickland said on CNN's "State of the Union."
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With a jobless rate of 7.2% in August, the state fell below that month's national average of 8.1%, which ticked down to 7.8% in September.
The debate over the president's impact versus that of the governor is a main point of contention in the crucial battleground. Democrats argue the federal auto bailout made the difference in Ohio, while Republicans point to Kasich's policies of lowering taxes and easing regulations.
In the last 12 elections, no candidate has won the White House without winning the Buckeye State. Obama's re-election campaign and Mitt Romney's team have flooded the state with campaign ads and events, with the candidates, running mates and wives making a combined total of 65 stops in the state since June.
Another Ohio political heavyweight - the state attorney general, former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican - argued Romney's widely applauded debate performance has changed the race in Ohio.
"Romney is going to carry Ohio. It's going to be a very, very close race. But this race fundamentally changed Wednesday night," he told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, citing a feeling of "tremendous energy" for the GOP candidate.
DeWine praised Romney for appearing presidential and argued Obama could not defend his record for the last four years.
Hitting back, Strickland teased he would bet on the president to win the state.
"If I was as rich as Mitt Romney, I would bet DeWine $10,000 that the president is going to win Ohio," the former governor said, referring to the now-infamous bet Romney suggested with Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a Republican primary debate.
Strickland added that Wednesday's debate may be remembered more for Romney's performance than his honesty.
"Romney did well in the debate," he said. "I give him a B+ on style but I give him a D- on substance and truthfulness. Mitt Romney did not tell the truth."
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal/Poll poll showed Obama with an eight-point edge over Romney, 51%-43%, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
That poll falls in line with CNN's Poll of Polls, which averages three Ohio polls of likely voters in the last two weeks and indicates Obama at 52% and Romney at 43%. As an average of multiple polls, it does not have a calculable sampling error.
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