The Romney campaign is taking a simple message on the road to Ohio this week: “Stop Obama.” That’s the catch-all for a variety of economic policies–on energy, trade, and taxes–that Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan will be highlighting on their three-day bus tour in one of the most hotly contested swing states.
Romney’s message is crafted for the unique challenges that the Buckeye State presents. The economy is bad in Ohio–but, under Republican governance, not as bad as the nation as a whole. Obama’s auto bailout is popular, but also robbed thousands of non-union workers in Ohio of their pensions. Republicans lost big in last year’s referendum on public sector union reforms–but won by a similar margin on an initiative rejecting Obamacare, and swept several candidates to statewide office on the Tea Party message of controlling government spending.
So the Romney message in Ohio boils down to: stop Obama, and get him out of the way of Ohio’s recovery.
Senior Adviser Ed Gillespie, responding to reporters’ questions on a campaign conference call this morning, emphasized the argument that Ohio does not have a partner in Obama, and that his policies are holding the state back. Romney promises to work together with Ohio–and, more important, to get out of its way.
On the “working together” side of the equation, Romney promises to confront China over unfair trade practices. On the “get out of the way” side, Romney wants to let the Ohio energy sector–including recent shale gas finds, traditional coal industries, and new opportunities in the stalled Keystone XL pipeline–grow to its full potential. He also plans to highlight Obama’s responsibility for the federal deficit–and the taxes Obama proposes to raise.
Given another term, the Romney campaign argues, Obama would not only tax more and spend more, but would also allow China to surpass the U.S. economy, and would deliver on his infamous promise to make household energy prices “skyrocket” as the result of an anti-fossil fuel agenda. Ohio is well-placed to take advantage of new “onshoring” in the manufacturing sector, as well as new energy opportunities, but only if Obama and his policies can be stopped–and only a Romney/Ryan vote can stop him, the campaign will tell Ohio voters.
There is some evidence that the “stop Obama” message will resonate in Ohio–one of the only swing states where the Romney campaign acknowledges it is slightly behind the president. One of the clearest pieces of evidence, Gillespie said, is the Obama campaign’s frantic pushback against Romney’s ads on China.
Gillespie said the campaign will also highlight the Romney-Ryan plan for “real recovery” as an alternative to Obama’s weak economic record–a reference to a remark by Ryan after last month’s disappointing jobs report.
Obama will also visit Ohio later this week. Early voting begins in the state next week, on Oct. 2.