(CNN) – In the final two weeks before Election Day, the presidential race is coming down to just a few states–with Ohio as perhaps the most contested battleground.
For Mitt Romney, the Buckeye State may be even more crucial, as no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio.
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A number of newspapers in the state published their endorsements within the last week – two siding with President Obama and the other with Romney. The largest paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, rolled out support for Obama but with far less enthusiasm than in 2008.
The paper said Obama has fumbled and "often been his own worst enemy," but he has the potential to continue economic growth after leading "the nation back from the brink of depression."
The paper acknowledged the obstacles Obama inherited when he took office and said Obama's failings and lacking "vision for the many challenges that still confront America" in this campaign almost led the paper to endorse GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
"This litany of missed opportunities, as much as the grim economic statistics that have become America's unacceptable new normal, left us sorely tempted to endorse Gov. Romney this fall," the editorial board wrote. "Like President Obama, he is a man of public achievement and private honor. He was born to wealth and power, but used those advantages well."
On the other hand, Obama made the "unpopular but gutsy" decision to further bail out automakers Chrysler and General Motors, significant players in the Ohio economy. "Romney," the newspaper wrote, "urged the companies to file for traditional bankruptcy – at a time when private-sector credit was frozen even for healthy firms."
According to a Quinnipiac University/CBS News survey released Monday morning, 50% of likely voters in Ohio say they support the president, with 45% backing Romney. Obama's five point lead is right at the edge of the survey's sampling error. Throughout the fall and summer, polls in Ohio have shown a tight race, some with a slight advantage for Obama.
Ohio has 18 electoral votes. Both candidates and their campaigns have made frequent stops in both states in the weeks before Election Day. Vice President Joe Biden heads to the Buckeye State on Monday for two events and Obama campaigns there this week.
The Akron Beacon Journal of Ohio printed more supportive ink for Obama. In fact, the editorial sharply defended the president against critics.
"Disappointment burdens the president's pursuit of a second term. Yet he shouldn't be measured merely against his soaring words. What matters are his real accomplishments and the direction he proposes for the years ahead. On both those counts, he has succeeded far more than his critics contend," the paper read.
While the editorial board criticized the president for lacking "political skills" and failing to "address more directly the battered housing market," the board wrote that Obama has set solid measures in place.
"What is telling about a presidency is its tilt, its direction, spirit and priorities. Thus, to those who argue the president lacks a plan for a second term: Look at the foundation that has been set. He has used the levers of government to bolster the economy, investing in education, innovation and health care, understanding the essential role of the public sector in competitiveness," the paper wrote.
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Romney, meanwhile, picked up an endorsement from the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday.
"After nearly four years of economic stagnation, massive unemployment, record-setting debt and government intrusions into the economy that have paralyzed the private sector, the United States needs a new direction," the Dispatch editorial said. "For this reason, The Dispatch urges voters to choose Republican Mitt Romney for president in the Nov. 6 election."
The Ohio paper's editorial proceeded to lay out the results of Obama's four years in the White House in bullet point form, ticking off a series of economic woes from unemployment to the poverty rate still plaguing the country.
The Dispatch, which endorsed 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain, said it "warned" readers last cycle of the dangers of an Obama presidency.
"Just as we warned four years ago, this master orator has pushed America toward a European-style social democracy," the Florida paper wrote. "We don't question Obama's motives. The president sincerely believes in the inviolable ability of the federal government to make all things right. But Americans should see that this top-down approach doesn't work."
"Romney, in contrast, would capitalize on individuals' ingenuity, not Washington directives."
The Dayton Daily News and the Toledo Blade, which both supported Obama in 2008, have yet to make their endorsements. The Cincinnati Enquirer has also not printed an endorsement. It backed McCain four years ago.
- CNN's Ashley Killough, Gregory Wallace and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.