Romney Fights to Keep Ohio Competitive

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  September 26, 2012 at 9:36 AM EDT

Romney supporters in Ohio; photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Supporters of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan greet the Republican nominees at Ohio’s Dayton International Airport on Tuesday. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio, but it appears increasingly likely that Mitt Romney will have to find a path to 270 electoral votes without the Buckeye State if he is to become the 45th president of the United States.

As the Republican presidential nominee begins Day 2 of his bus tour through the critical battleground state, he finds yet another poll showing him trailing President Obama in the race for Ohio’s 18 electoral votes.

According to a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll, Romney is running 10 points behind the president in Ohio, 53 percent to 43 percent, with the first debate now a week off and Election Day less than six weeks away.

In Florida, Mr. Obama leads Romney by nine points, 53 percent to 44 percent, while in Pennsylvania, the margin is 12 points, 54 percent to 42 percent. After some initial talk that the Keystone State could be in play this cycle, it appears set to go blue for the sixth consecutive presidential election. (As the Morning Line noted recently, the ads have been pulled from the airwaves there.)

With the president looking stronger, so do the Democratic Senate candidates seeking re-election in these three battleground states. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is leading GOP challenger Connie Mack by 14 points, 53 percent to 39 percent. In Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown is up 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent, on Republican state treasurer Josh Mandel. And Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey has a six-point lead, 49 percent to 43 percent, over GOP businessman Tom Smith.

Florida and Ohio are two contests that Romney can ill-afford to let fall too far from the “toss-up” classification, or else risk further that talk the electoral map is slipping away from him. On Tuesday the Washington Post released polls of the two states that showed the president up eight points (52 percent to 44 percent) in Ohio and four points (51 percent to 47 percent) in Florida.

Politico reported that Romney political director Rich Beeson told reporters on the campaign plane there is still a “nice, wide open path” to victory.

From the story:

“If we lose Ohio, can we still win?” Beeson said, repeating the question asked of him by reporters. “I say if its and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas…. I just don’t deal in if-then statements.”

Beeson compared states on the map to children (he has two boys,) saying individual states can’t be written off.

“It’s like kids out there — you’re not ever going to say I’m going to lose one of my kids[....] I don’t sit down and sort of lop those off. I prefer to look at the map holistically.”…

Beeson pointed to other states where he thinks Romney will be competitive, like Wisconsin, as proof that the GOP nominee’s route to 270 isn’t limited to Ohio.

“The president had to go into Wisconsin.[...]”

“We are by any stretch inside the margin of error in Ohio, and the Obama campaign is going to have some problems there,” Beeson said….

“In Ohio, the state where they just opened their 100th office, we have 40, we have an equal number of contacts on the ground there,” Beeson said. “So I just want to make sure people are looking to take into effect, take into account the quality of the contacts, the number of contacts, not just the staff and offices.”…

“[W]e trust our internal polls,” Beeson said. “I don’t make any campaign decisions based off of what I read in the Washington Post.”

Looking to turn the tide in his favor, Romney stumped with vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan outside Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday, and pledged to stand up to China’s unfair trade practices, an issue that resonates in the industrial Midwest.

“This cannot be allowed,” Romney said. “We cannot compete with people who don’t play fair, and I won’t let that go on. I will stop it in its tracks.”

The Obama campaign released a web video Wednesday blasting Romney’s tough talk on China, accusing the GOP hopeful of doing business with Chinese companies that have stolen U.S. videos and pirated software.

Romney will hold three events Wednesday in Ohio, beginning with a rally outside Columbus before heading to the Cleveland area and then on to Toledo. Mr. Obama has two rallies planned on college campuses, heading first to Bowling Green State University in the afternoon and then Kent State University in the evening.

Just how much attention has the Buckeye State received from the campaigns? Check out this nifty Cleveland Plain Dealer map tracking visits by the two presidential nominees and their running mates so far this year.

See the paths for each White House hopeful yourself in our Vote 2012 Map Center.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The NewsHour led Tuesday night with President Obama’s appearance at the United Nations General Assembly. Gwen Ifill followed that with a discussion with Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador, and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, about what the speech says about the Obama administration’s foreign policy challenges.

  • Politico’s Lois Romano finds that the white man is suddenly a coveted voter bloc once again.

  • The Washington Post looked at how the candidates are appealing to college students. Tune in to Wednesday’s NewsHour for Judy Woodruff’s report on the battle for young voters.

  • Talking Points Memo has a handy chart showing the schedule of early voting.

  • The Detroit News profiles Charlie Spies of the pro-Romney Restore our Future super PAC.

  • Ann Romney was on Jay Leno. Here’s the skinny.

  • Internet activists encourage voting.

  • The controversial Pennsylvania voter ID requirements have changed.

  • PBS’ Frontline has a month’s worth of election coverage planned. Check it out.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Politico writes about the power struggle for the seven House gavels up for grabs next year.

  • Republican Rep. Todd Akin let the deadline pass and stuck with his bid to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, and Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund appears poised to jump into the race to help him. Roll Call moved the race rating from “Tossup” to “Leans Democratic.”

  • The Boston Globe’s Michael Levenson and Noah Bierman report on the release of a video showing GOP staffers “performing tomahawk chops and war whoops” outside one of Republican Sen. Scott Brown’s campaign events. Brown has attacked his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, for claiming Native American ancestry in an effort to gain an advantage in her professional career.

  • The Hill notices that the National Republican Congressional Committee has stopped running ads for Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and freshman Reps. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire and Joe Walsh of Illinois. Roll Call catches that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee canceled a week of its ad buy in GOP Rep. Allen West’s Florida district. But the Democratic House Majority PAC has committed more than $1 million to that race.

  • Teenage vandals — not political miscreants — broke the window in a New York congressman’s campaign office.

  • Left-leaning Public Policy Polling finds Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson leading GOP Rep. Connie Mack in the Florida Senate battle, 46 percent to 37 percent.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Mitt Romney campaigns in Ohio with a rally in Westerville at 8:30 a.m., a manufacturing roundtable in Bedford Heights at 1:05 p.m. and a rally in Toledo at 5:30 p.m.

  • President Obama campaigns in Ohio with events in Bowling Green at 1:05 p.m. and in Kent at 5:40 p.m.

  • Paul Ryan campaigns in Colorado with a town hall in Fort Collins at 2 p.m. and a rally in Colorado Springs at 8:25 p.m.

  • Vice President Biden and Jill Biden host a reception in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., at 6 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.