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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Obama Heads to Ohio Battleground, Again


MANSFIELD, Ohio â€" As polls in this battleground state and nationally continue to show voters split over President Obama's stewardship of the economy, Mr. Obama on Wednesday is making his ninth visit this year to Ohio to contrast his vision for the nation's future with that of his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.

In stops here in Mansfield and in Akron in north-central Ohio, an area that Mr. Obama only recently visited during a campaign bus tour, the president planned to “discuss the choice in this election between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy, create middle-class jobs and pay down the debt,” according to his campaign.

But Mr. Obama was flying, literally, into a controversy in Mansfield that Republicans, led by Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a potential running mate for Mr. Romney, were only too happy to fan. According to local media, Air Force One was landing at an air base that is h ome to the 179th Air National Guard Wing, which would be mothballed under the Obama administration's proposed postwar reductions in Pentagon spending.

Mr. Obama is expected to repeat his call for Republicans in Congress to agree to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, on annual income of less than $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals, and to drop their insistence that the lower tax rates be extended as well for income above those thresholds. While higher taxes for the wealthiest taxpayers are central to Mr. Obama's broader deficit-reduction plan for the coming decade, Mr. Romney is calling for an additional $5 trillion in tax reductions over 10 years beyond the Bush tax cuts and has not said how he would offset the revenue loss to reduce the federal debt.

Mr. Obama has a six-percentage-point advantage over Mr. Romney in Ohio according to new polls of several battleground states for Quin nipiac University/New York Times/CBS News. But while independent voters strongly support Mr. Obama in next-door Pennsylvania, those in Ohio and in Florida â€" where the president will campaign on Thursday â€" are split between the candidates and just over half of independents in those states say they disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance.

Even so, more voters in Ohio also said Mr. Romney's experience as a private-equity manager has been too focused on making profits for investors and not enough on creating jobs. That reflects the abundance of negative ads that the Obama campaign and a independent “super-PAC” supporting the president have run in swing states to define Mr. Romney as an out-of-touch multimillionaire who puts personal profits over jobs for average Americans.

In time for Mr. Obama's latest visit â€" the 25th in his presidency, according to the count of CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller, who keeps such records â€" his campaign is broadcasti ng a new ad titled “Worried” that draws parallels between Mr. Romney's agenda for increased military spending and tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations, and the major policies of the Bush administration in the past decade.

“You watched, and worried,” a voice says in the ad, which also is running in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. “Two wars. Tax cuts for millionaires. Debt piled up. And now we face a choice.” The ad then segues from those Bush-era policies to Mr. Romney's military spending and tax cut proposals.

Local media in Ohio reported on Tuesday that voters were lined up for blocks to get tickets from campaign field offices for Mr. Obama's appearances.