By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times –
MANSFIELD, Ohio — Mitt Romney touched down in Ohio on Monday just long enough to fire up a crowd with a full-throated attack on President Barack Obama’s economic policies and then promised to return.
“We’ll be back a lot to Ohio,” he assured one woman after his speech at a machine tool plant in Ohio’s Republican heartland. Polls show Obama leading in Ohio, a key battleground state in the November election.
Romney delivered his standard stump speech to a crowd estimated at about 1,200 people, beginning with a parsing of the Pledge of Allegiance that allows him to contrast his vision with that of Obama’s on issues that include the deficit, military spending and the place of God in American life.
Cataloging the weak state of the economy under Obama, he mentioned that 46 million people are receiving food stamps. “That’s a record, and not a good record,” he said, prompting a man in the crowd to yell, “It’s not Bush’s fault!”
Democrats have stressed that Obama inherited an economic disaster from President George W. Bush, whose name is not often heard at Romney events.
After the speech, Romney went outside to greet an overflow crowd that had not made it inside the cavernous warehouse where the event was held.
Clambering up on a picnic table, he spoke briefly, saying, “I think I can count on Ohio to win this thing, don’t you think?” The crowd yelled back, “Yes!”
He went on to remind voters, as he has frequently, that in 2008, Obama promised “to slow the rise of the oceans and … heal the planet.”
“Well, I’m here to heal the American people, to help the American people, to help them to get good jobs,” Romney said, to loud cheers. “I want to help more people to fulfill their dreams and build great enterprises and put people to work. And I want to heal our economy, get it stronger. I’m not looking to heal the planet. It’s an important job, I know, but I’m here to make sure that people have good jobs and good prospects and that you’re confident that your kids have a brighter future.”
Romney landed at Mansfield Rahm Air National Guard base, the same base where Obama’s arrival last month created a stir. Obama has proposed eliminating the C-27J transport plane program, and there is fear in Ohio that it could lead to the closure of the air base. When Obama visited, he was met by Col. Michael Howard, the base’s vice commander, who had said beforehand that he planned to park a C-27J on the tarmac near Air Force One.
It is not clear if he did, but after meeting with the president, Howard was quoted in local media as saying he was more optimistic that the base could be saved.
Howard also met Romney when he disembarked from his campaign plane, and the two had an animated conversation for several minutes. Before he left Ohio to fly to a Chicago-area fundraiser, Romney walked across the tarmac to look at one of the endangered planes.