Romney on the rise in Ohio
Saturday October 13, 2012 8:51 AM
LANCASTER — Maybe Vice President Joe Biden stopped the bleeding for the Obama campaign on Thursday, but he did little to stall the momentum Mitt Romney’s building in Ohio.
“I’ve had the fun of going back and forth across Ohio, and this week, I was also in Florida and Iowa, ... in North Carolina and Virginia,” Romney told 8,500 people packed into the Lancaster Town Square last night for a rally featuring him and running mate Paul Ryan.
Ryan debated Biden on Thursday night in Kentucky in their lone duel of the campaign; afterward, both sides were claiming victory.
“You know what? There’s a growing crescendo of enthusiasm,” Romney said. “People recognize that this is not an ordinary campaign, this is a critical time in the country. There’s more energy and passion. People are getting behind this campaign.”
Romney was previously greeted by huge crowds in Cuyahoga Falls on Tuesday night (12,000 people) and in Sidney, Ohio, on Wednesday night (9,000), and both he and Ryan have campaign stops scheduled in the state today. Ryan also added a noon rally in Cincinnati on Monday.
Most polls still show President Barack Obama with a lead over Romney in Ohio, a lead that inarguably has shrunk from the 5- to 10-point margins Obama held not long ago.
The Romney blitz and poll-tightening in Ohio followed Romney’s clear win over Obama last week in Denver — a debate for which Romney was praised and Obama was widely panned.
Most pundits agree Biden performed well enough Thursday night to at least heal some of the wounds Obama’s performance inflicted upon his re-election bid, but there was enough good from Ryan for Romney to credit him for some of the Lancaster crowd’s enthusiasm.
“Guys, we got to watch this guy debate. And there was one person on the stage with thoughtfulness, who was respectful, who was steady and poised,” Romney said, with Ryan standing on stage to his right. “There was one person on that stage who you’d want to be with in a crisis, and it’s this man right here.”
Romney was referring to Biden’s tone and body language. The excitement in Biden’s voice and smirks on his face while Ryan spoke earned the vice president the most criticism for his performance.
“Any time your defense is based on style and not substance, you lost the argument,” countered Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic chairman.
“The vice president won without question, and I think any neutral observer would agree, not only on style but substance. … The debate offered a terrific contrast between what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will do and what President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have done and will continue to do.”
Ryan briefly touched on the debate, saying the “clear choice” voters have was on display “last night, just like we saw a week ago.”
“You see, they are offering no new ideas,” Ryan said. “The president is simply saying more of the same. Hope and change has become attack and blame.”
Ryan had criticized the administration’s response to a terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya on Sept. 11 that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. But neither Ryan nor Romney touched on the portion of the Biden-Ryan debate that might have caused the Obama White House the most trouble.
Biden said in the debate that “we didn’t know” the embassy had asked for more security before the attack, even though State Department officials testified to the contrary earlier this week.
During a speech in Virginia earlier yesterday, Romney said Biden was “doubling down on denial.
“And we need to understand exactly what happened as opposed to just have people brush this aside,” Romney said. “When the vice president of the United States directly contradicts the testimony — sworn testimony — of State Department officials, American citizens have a right to know just what’s going on.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Biden was “speaking directly for himself and for the president.”
“He meant the White House,” Carney said. “In over four hours of testimony, the testimony that you just referenced the other day, no one who testified about this matter suggested that requests for additional security were made to the president or the White House. These are issues appropriately … handled by security professionals at the State Department.”
During another point in Thursday night’s debate, Biden said “we don’t need any more M1 tanks,” which are made in Ohio.
The Romney campaign brought that up not only in Lancaster but also in a radio ad in Ohio exploiting the Biden quote.
Romney and Obama will have their second debate on Tuesday. The following day, Obama will travel to Athens, Ohio, for a post-debate rally.