DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The endgame at hand, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney plunged into the final two weeks of an excruciatingly close race for the White House yesterday with TV advertising nearing an astronomical $1 billion and millions of Americans casting early ballots in all regions of the country.
Increasingly, Ohio looms as ground zero in a campaign waged in tough economic times. The state’s unemployment rate of 7 percent is well below the national average of 7.8 percent, Obama has campaigned here more than in any other state and Romney has booked a heavy schedule of appearances in hopes of a breakthrough.
The economy was the theme yesterday as the two rivals put their final, foreign policy-focused debate behind.
Obama brandished a new 20-page summary of his second-term agenda and told a campaign crowd in Florida his rival’s blueprint “doesn’t really create jobs. His deficit plan doesn’t reduce the deficit; it adds to it.”
More than that, he said Romney changes his positions so often that he can’t be trusted.
In Dayton, Obama said of his rival: “In the closing weeks of the campaign, he’s doing everything he can to hide his true positions. He is terrific at making presentations about stuff he thinks is wrong with America, but he sure can’t give you an answer about what will make it right. And that’s not leadership you can trust.”
Before flying to Ohio for his 17th trip of the election year, Obama also said with a hint of humility: “It doesn’t mean that every candidate is going to get everything done all at once perfectly, but you want somebody to be able to look you in the eye and say, here’s what I believe.”
Romney countered in an appearance before a large, cheering crowd in Henderson, Nev. He said Obama wants a new term for the same policies that have produced slow economic growth and high unemployment for four long years. “He is a status quo candidate. ... That’s why his campaign is slipping and ours is gaining so much steam,” he said.