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Thursday
Jul052012

Ted Strickland Slams Romney’s Off-Shore Accounts

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MAUMEE, Ohio) -- At the kick-off rally for President Obama’s first campaign bus tour of the election season, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a co-chair of the Obama 2012 campaign, assailed presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s off-shore accounts.

“Oh, what a contrast, my friends, between these two men who would be president!” Strickland said, standing outside the Wolcott House Museum. “President Obama is betting on America and American workers, and Mitt Romney is betting his resources in the Cayman Islands, in Bermuda, in Switzerland and God only knows where else he is putting his resources.”

Strickland was referring to media-led investigations into legal – but politically controversial — off shore accounts Romney has held, in apparent efforts to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Romney had not disclosed some of these accounts in previous public filings.

“Think about it, think of this, a man who wants to be the president of the United States took his great wealth, and instead of investing that great wealth in America, the country he hopes to lead, he somehow chose to find the tax haven, Switzerland, where he opened up a bank account,” Strickland said. “He invested in the Cayman islands, has a corporation in Bermuda, and he took money from shadowy south American investors when he started Bain Capital and now my friends, he conveniently has decided that he will not release his income tax returns. Doesn’t it make you wonder what Mitt Romney is trying to hide from the American people?”

The Obama campaign earlier today released a web video assailing Romney on the issue, with senior campaign officials emailing and tweeting the stories to reporters.

“President Obama is the in-sourcer of jobs and Mitt Romney is the outsourcer of jobs,” Strickland added, referring to a June 21 Washington Post report suggesting the private equity firm Romney once helmed was an innovator in the technique of sending jobs overseas – a story the Romney campaign hotly disputes.

In a statement, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said, “President Obama once said, ‘If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things.’ Now it’s President Obama who doesn’t have a record to run on, so he and his campaign have resorted to false and ridiculous attacks. His policies have failed to fix the economy and create jobs for the middle class. Mitt Romney has the record and plan to create jobs and turn around the economy.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

Obama's Bus Tour Hits Friendly Turf in Pennsylvania, Ohio

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Unlike Mitt Romney’s recent bus tour, President Obama’s upcoming roadtrip might feel more like a homestand.

On Tuesday, his campaign announced a two-day bus tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio, which will take him across some friendly turf.  Not only did Obama win those two states in 2008, he’ll stop in counties that supported him -- the president has four scheduled public appearances, each one in a county he carried in 2008.

On Thursday, Obama will traverse northern Ohio, a Democratic stronghold.  On Friday, he’ll visit Pittsburgh, a Democratic outpost in traditionally Republican western Pennsylvania.

Obama will stop at the Wolcott House Museum in Toledo, Ohio, in a county where he defeated John McCain by 31 percentage points; at Washington Park in Sandusky, Ohio, where he won by 4 percentage points; at James W. Day Park and Dobbins Elementary School in Cleveland, where he won by 39 percentage points; and at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he won by 15 percentage points in 2008.

In all, Obama carried the total vote in these four counties by 27 percentage points.  If they made up a state, Obama would have won it 63 percent to 36 percent.

Contrast that to Romney’s recent bus tour, on which the former governor ventured into hostile territory.  While Obama will play some defense, Romney played mostly offense.

As ABC’s Elizabeth Hartfield reported at the time, Romney’s schedule included stops in many counties Obama won in 2008.  By the end of the trip, Romney had appeared in 15 counties, 10 of which Obama won in 2008 and five of which were won by McCain.

In mid-June, Romney’s five-day bus tour swung through New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan -- all Obama states in 2008.  In the 15 counties Romney visited, including major Obama strongholds in Madison, Wis., and Davenport, Iowa, Obama carried the total vote by 5 percentage points.  Counting all votes cast, Obama defeated McCain 50 percent to 45 percent in Romney’s bus-tour counties.

“We’re certainly campaigning on their turf,” Romney strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters the day the tour began.

So why did Obama’s campaign choose such friendly territory?

A campaign official explained the stops as “still-critical towns and markets,” and in Pennsylvania, Obama will reach voters who opposed him last time, as Pittsburgh’s media market covers surrounding counties that all voted for McCain.  Pennsylvania’s Democratic counties surround Philadelphia, the state’s southeastern region.

But in Ohio, Obama will largely seek to energize and solidify his 2008 base.  The tour will take Obama across the northern part of the state, where every county east of Toledo backed him last time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

Joe the Plumber: Obama ‘Should Be Embarrassed' to Come to Ohio

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The last time Samuel Wurzelbacher, a plumber from Ohio, attended an Obama campaign rally four years ago, he earned the nickname “Joe the Plumber” and became an icon of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign when he questioned then-candidate Obama about his tax plan.

But as President Obama’s bus tour rolls through Wurzelbacher’s northern Ohio district on Thursday, Wurzelbacher said he’d steer clear of any Obama events and let his fellow Ohioans answer his questions in the 2012 race.

“As of right now, I don’t have any desire to go there,” Wurzelbacher, who is now running for Congress on the Republican ticket, told ABC News.  “His ideology and mine are completely different, and I have no real reason to listen to him speak.”

Wurzelbacher has staked much of his campaign on opposing Obama’s policies, which he claims have made life harder for middle-class residents in his district by placing more regulations on the private sector, raising taxes and kicking the can down the road on America’s big problems, such as the debt and deficit.

“If I was Obama, I would be embarrassed to come here,” Wurzelbacher said.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll in June showed Obama with a nearly 10-point lead over Mitt Romney in Ohio.

With Obama’s hefty lead in Ohio and Wurzelbacher’s district’s already-Democratic leanings, Wurzelbacher faces an uphill battle in his bid for a U.S. House seat.  He is facing 15-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Mary Kaptur in Ohio’s newly redrawn 9th district, which borders Lake Erie, extending from Cleveland to Toledo.

Wurzelbacher gained national notoriety as Joe the Plumber after he asked candidate Obama if his tax plan would raise taxes on his small plumbing business.  Obama’s GOP rival McCain seized on the encounter, often citing Wurzelbacher as an average American who would be adversely affected by Obama’s policies.

“He talks about transparency, and it hasn’t been.  He talks about making the rich stop getting richer and poor stop getting poorer,” Wurzelbacher said.  “He says one thing and does another, just like an average politician.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun262012

Obama TV Ads in Ohio, Iowa, Virginia Label Romney ‘Outsourcer-in-Chief’

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Continuing to capitalize on a Washington Post report on Mitt Romney’s ties to outsourcing, the Obama campaign is launching state-specific TV ads in Ohio, Iowa and Virginia on Tuesday that accuse the presumptive Republican nominee of a history of shipping U.S. jobs overseas.

The 30-second spots each directly respond to claims made in Romney’s “First 100 Days” TV ad that’s been airing in the same states, which are hotly-contested battlegrounds ahead of the November election.

The Ohio ad focuses on Romney’s assertion that a “President Romney stands up to China;” the Iowa ad hits his claim that residents would experience “fewer worries;” and the Virginia spot attacks Romney’s promise of “thousands of new jobs for Virginians.”

“The Washington Post has just revealed that Romney’s companies were pioneers in shipping U.S. jobs overseas, investing in firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India,” the narrator says in each of the Obama ads.

“Does Iowa really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House?” the narrator questions at the close.  The same closing line is also tailored to the Virginia ad.
 
Obama campaign officials believe the outsourcing attack on Romney, which the president has himself been pushing on the stump, is gaining momentum nationwide and resonating in key communities in battleground states.  

The state-specific ads are part of “significant buys in key markets,” one official said, indicating they would run multiple times.  

The Romney campaign has rebuffed the outsourcing attacks as a distortion of the former Bain Capital executive’s record and a diversion from President Obama’s handling of the economy.

The ad release Tuesday comes as Romney campaigns in Virginia and Vice President Joe Biden kicks off a bus tour through Iowa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun222012

Romney Tailors ‘First 100 Days’ Ads to Swing States

Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney’s campaign released four ads Friday morning specifically tailored to the battleground states of Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia.

The 30-second ads, each titled, “100 Days” followed by the corresponding state name, explain how Romney would handle the important issues of each state within his first 100 days in office.  Three of the four ads, excluding Ohio’s, mention Romney’s commitment to repealing President Obama’s health care plan.  

Voters in Virginia and Iowa will see how Romney plans to slash the deficit on day one, with “$20 billion in savings.”

The Iowa ad says Romney will work on balancing the budget and that his first 100 days will result in ”fewer worries about their future and their children’s future” for the people of Iowa.

The ad in industrial-based Ohio emphasizes Romney’s commitment to stand up to China, repealing regulations restricting the energy industry, and creating “a better place to do business as we see more factories and jobs coming back.”

North Carolina voters will hear that Romney will move to cut taxes, stabilize the economy and promote new jobs in the banking and technology sectors, and the Virginia ad relays to voters Romney’s willingness to reverse Obama’s ban on offshore drilling, a move Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell supports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Potential VP Pick Sen. Portman Still Unknown to Many in His Own State

Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press(NEWARK, Ohio) -- Among Washington, D.C. political insiders, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is considered one of the most likely to be picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

But, in northeastern and central Ohio, even among the GOP faithful, his name draws more question marks than exclamation points.

Theresa, Tami and Tim Clark, siblings from Lancaster, Ohio, stood in a sunny town square in Newark on Sunday waiting for Romney to arrive and address the assembled crowd.  All three were supportive of Romney, though Tim said he drove the 26 miles to see what Romney has to say “straight on” instead of relying on what he gets from TV ads and news reports.

When asked what they thought about Portman as a potential VP pick, Theresa admitted she didn’t know much about him.

“What state is he from?” she asked.

Her brother Tim, replied that “he’s a senator or a representative” from Ohio.

But, while she knew nothing of Portman, Theresa had heard of one potential VP candidate that intrigued her.

“I like [Florida Sen. Marco] Rubio,” she said.

Cathy Ford and Cynthia Johnson were also on hand for Romney’s Newark speech.  Both are strong Romney supporters.  Neither knew much about Portman either.  

If Romney picked Portman, Cathy said, “it wouldn’t influence their vote.”  Even so, they said that they “trust Romney will make the right choice,” in his running mate.

Portman represented Cincinnati from 1993 until 2005 when he was picked as U.S. Trade Representative.  He was elected to the Senate in 2010.  A poll taken by Quinnipiac University in May found that 59 percent of Ohio voters hadn’t heard enough about the freshman senator to give an opinion on him.

Perhaps the most telling example of Portman’s anonymity came from an event earlier Sunday morning in Brunswick, Ohio.  Romney, his wife Ann, and two of their sons were doling out hotcakes for rain-soaked supporters.  Portman stood close by cooking up some of the pancakes.

Standing with a crowd of Romney supporters, ABC News' political director Amy Walter overheard a man asked if the “gray haired” guy flipping the pancakes was Romney’s son Tagg.

No, replied another person in the crowd, “that’s Senator Portman.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

As Obama and Romney Duel in Ohio, Hometown Son Rob Portman Pounds Obama

Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press(WASHINGTON) -- If Ohio is a battleground, Thursday the first shots were fired in the war for the White House. As Mitt Romney and Obama gave dueling speeches, Ohio’s hometown Republican Senator Rob Portman, who is considered to be on a short list of potential VP picks, pounded the president from Washington, D.C.

“President Barack Obama correctly points out that he inherited this recession,” Portman wrote in an op-ed that appeared Wednesday night on Politico’s website.  "But the question is: What did he do with it? His policies, unfortunately, have failed to turn things around.”

Portman called the president out for failing to keep his promise to bring unemployment below six percent, adding that unemployment has been over eight percent for three years.

“We must do better,” Portman wrote in Politco, foreshadowing a line in Romney’s speech Thursday where Romney said of the presidency that he’d like to find “find someone who can do a better job.”

Portman continued to paint the portrait of a failed president during a conference call with reporters when he acknowledged Obama had inherited a tough economy but then squandered his opportunity to fix it.

“The president tried to blame it on everything except his policies,” Portman said according to reporters listening in to the call.  “He’s been finding excuses for months as to why the economy is not doing well.”

Later Thursday, Sen. Portman delivered brief remarks at the Faith and Freedom Conference in downtown D.C.  Although the speech centered on the way his faith and commitment to family has influenced his life and career decisions, Portman did not miss the opportunity to hit the president on last Friday’s “the private sector is doing fine” slip-up.

“The president gave us a glimpse into the failed philosophy he has chosen last week when he proclaimed that the private sector was doing just fine,” Portman said to the audience.  "He needs to get out more.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also considered in the top tier of potential running mates for Romney, spoke after Portman.  Other notable politicians in attendance at this year’s Faith and Freedom Conference include Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Ohio Showdown: Obama, Romney Offer Economic Choice

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney gave economic speeches at almost the same time in Ohio today. But their arguments could not have been more different.

Set in one of the swing states that will decide the November election, the speeches laid out the stark contrast Americans face in November between the president's economic policies and those of his challenger.

Obama traveled to Ohio and spoke at a community college outside Cleveland to effectively to hit a reset button on his re-election campaign following a stretch of bad economic news and messaging missteps that have shaken Democrats' confidence and caused some allies to sound the alarm.

At the outset, he admitted he misspoke last week when he said "the private sector is doing just fine" creating jobs. At the end he politely asked for supporters to "stand with me" for a second term.

"There will be no shortage of gaffes and controversies," he said of the months until November. "Recently I made my own contribution."

He warned that a President Romney would doom the middle class. He called it a "defining moment" in American history.

"From 2001 to 2008 we had the slowest job growth in half a century," Obama said, arguing that the economy has done worse under recent Republican presidents. He said economic policies that focused on deregulation led to Americans borrowing too much money and relying too much on credit cards.

"Why do we think they would work better this time? We can't afford to jeopardize our future by repeating the mistakes of the past," Obama said, hoping to tie Romney's policies to those of former President George W. Bush.

"In the fall of 2008 it all came tumbling down," said Obama, later adding that many economists say it should take 10 years from 2008 for the economy to fully recover. But he said the economy now is growing and has added more than 4 million private sector jobs during his presidency.

He told supporters the only way things get done in Washington is through the ballot box.

"The only thing that can break the stalemate is you," he said to voters. "Your vote will finally determine the path we take as a nation. Everything else is just noise, everything else is just a distraction."

It was, in short, an argument to voters that he should be able to continue his policies because they are working, albeit slowly. He focused on plans to invest heavily in education and alternative energy programs, and raising taxes on the wealthy.

Romney has said his focus would be on cutting government spending to ward off debilitating deficits and debt.

It's a case that Obama has been pushing for weeks in smaller campaign appearances with donors and grassroots volunteers. But he's now under pressure to articulate it more convincingly and broadly, as polls show a tightening race headed into the summer with many swing voters still making up their minds about the Republican nominee.

Romney spoke in Cincinnati, ending a speech to supporters just before Obama took the stage outside Cleveland. He argued that it is actually the president's policies that have kept the poor economy from rebounding.

"So as you look at the president's record, it is long on words and short on action that created jobs," said Romney, speaking at a metal manufacturer. "And again, talk is cheap. Action speaks loudly. Look what's happened across this country."

"If you think things are going swimmingly, if you think the president's right when he said the private sector is doing fine, well, then he's the guy to vote for," said Romney. "But when he said that, there was such an outpouring of response from the 23 million Americans out of work or underemployed that I think today he's not going to say it again."

No candidate for president since 1960 has won an election without carrying Ohio. Obama captured the state by four points in 2008, 51 to 47 percent, over Sen. John McCain.

Polls show Obama is in a close race with Romney in Ohio, leading him 48 to 42 percent in an NBC/Marist poll from mid-May but neck and neck, 45 to 44 percent, in a Quinnipiac University poll in the state just a week earlier.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Obama to Hit Reset Button on Campaign in Ohio

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will use a speech in Ohio on Thursday to hit a reset button on his re-election campaign, following a stretch of bad economic news and messaging missteps that have shaken Democrats' confidence and caused some allies to sound the alarm.

At a community college outside Cleveland, Obama will seek to frame the economic debate with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, casting the November election as a stark choice rather than a referendum on his record.  He will also warn that a President Romney would doom the middle class.

"Gov. Romney and his allies in Congress believe that if you simply take away regulations and cut taxes by trillions of dollars, the market will solve all our problems on its own," said a campaign official describing the arc of Obama's speech.  "The president believes the economy grows not from the top down, but from the middle class up, and he has an economic plan to do that."

It's a case that Obama has been pushing for weeks in smaller campaign appearances with donors and grassroots volunteers.  But he's now under pressure to articulate it more convincingly and broadly, as polls show a tightening race headed into the summer with many swing voters still making up their minds about the Republican nominee.

"You've got to be able to say, 'we've saved you from the abyss and we're moving incrementally forward,'" said a strategist affiliated with the Obama campaign.  The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, conceded, "That's just a tough message but it happens to be the environment you're in."

"You've also got to take this period to help educate the American public as to who is this guy; let's fill in the blanks," the strategist said.

Some Democrats, pointing to recent focus groups and polling data, worried publicly this week that Obama's pitch on progress in the economy isn't resonating with voters in key states, leaving him politically vulnerable and at risk of appearing out of touch.  There are also concerns in some circles that attacks on Romney's record in private equity and as governor are not sticking well enough.

White House and campaign officials insist that their game plan is working and will succeed over the long haul.  They frequently note that the president has high public opinion ratings on empathy with Americans who are struggling financially.  And they say he has presented detailed legislative proposals that would immediately put more workers back on the job.

"The problem here isn't the president's campaign staff and message he's put together, it's the economy that he inherited and is working hard to fix," said former White House aide and senior Priorities USA strategist Bill Burton.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Romney Predicts Obama Will Change Course in Ohio Speech

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney today offered a scathing preview of the speech President Obama is set to deliver Thursday in Ohio, warning a group of business leaders that while the president will speak “eloquently,” “words are cheap.”

Romney added that he expects the president to “change course” after his comment last week that the “private sector is doing fine.”

“He said, as you know, just a few days ago that the private sector is doing fine, but the incredulity that came screaming back from the American people, I think, has caused him to rethink that, and I think you’re gonna see him change course when he speaks tomorrow, where he will acknowledge that it isn’t going so well, and he’ll be asking for four more years,” said Romney, addressing the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs leading U.S. companies. His audience was made up of several high-profile CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, including those at the helm of Xerox and Macy’s.

“So instead of three years and he’s out, he wants four more years,” said Romney. “My own view is that he will speak eloquently, but that words are cheap, and that the record of an individual is the basis upon which you determine whether they should continue to hold on to their job. The record is that we have 23 million Americans that are out of work or stopped looking for work or underemployed. That is a compelling and a sad statistic. These are real people.”

President Obama is scheduled to speak at the Cuyahoga Community College Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland Thursday just five minutes prior to when Romney himself is set to begin an event in Cincinnati. This is the first time the president and the presumptive GOP candidate will hold public campaign events in the same state on the same day. The president’s speech was advised by his campaign as one that will offer remarks on “contrasting visions for our economy.” Romney, meanwhile, will be talking about the economy at a metal manufacturer.

“Now I happen to know that if President Obama speaks as he normally will tomorrow, his rhetoric will be soaring and eloquent,” Romney told the group, which heard from President Obama back in March. “But I’d suggest to look at the record more than the words. And I think you know what his record shows. I think you’ll also see that the policies he would take are very different than the ones that I’ve described.”

Romney went on to describe Obama’s record during his presidency as including “the most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs series of policies in modern American history.”

“The reason that it has taken so long for this recovery to gain traction and to put people back to work is in large measure because of the policy choices the president made. He is not responsible for whatever improvement we might be seeing,” said Romney. “Instead, he’s responsible for the fact that it’s taken so long to see this recovery and the recovery’s been so tepid.”

Obama’s re-election spokeswoman Lis Smith refuted Romney’s claims, saying that the GOP candidate made “dishonest after dishonest claim about the President’s record and failed to offer any new ideas of his own on how to improve the economy and strengthen the middle class.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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