MARIETTA, Ohio – Continuing the Romney campaign’s assault on President Obama’s “revenge” comments, Paul Ryan appeared in southeastern Ohio on Saturday morning, chastising the president for failing to fulfill his promises.
“In 2008, he appealed to our higher aspirations. Now, he’s appealing to lowest fears,” Ryan said before an enthusiastic crowd in a recreation center at Marietta College, located on the Muskingum River on the border with West Virginia. “Just yesterday, he was asking supporters at a rally to vote out of revenge. Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote out of love of country.”
Obama made the comments at a rally on Friday, also in Ohio. When the crowd booed after he said Romney’s name, Obama replied, “No, no, no — don’t boo, vote. Vote. Voting is the best revenge.”
The Romney campaign also released a new television ad Saturday on the exchange, called “Revenge or Love of Country.” It shows Romney saying the line about love of country, as a text pops up on screen, asking “What is Your Reason for Voting?”
The Obama campaign has explained that the president’s comment came in reaction to Romney’s “scare tactics” television ads in the state and was intended to send the message that voters can cast their ballots against Romney, if they feel that his plan is a “a bad deal for the middle class.”
Ryan appeared on stage in Marietta with his wife Janna and three children, who also traveled with him last weekend and are becoming a crowd favorite. At the end of the rally, his youngest son, Sam, got cheers from the crowd as he stood on the empty podium, arms outstretched, fingers frozen in peace signs.
After encouraging Ohioans to donate to the Red Cross and think about victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, Ryan also spoke about the latest job numbers, released Friday, which showed the nation added 171,000 jobs in October, but also had an unemployment rate ticking up slightly, to 7.9%.
“If you take a look at jobs, we just got the latest employment report before voters head to the polls on Tuesday,” he said. “The unemployment rate is higher than the day President Obama took office.”
Ryan pledged to use more coal and said the Romney/Ryan five-point plan would help create jobs.
“We have a jobs crisis,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have an actual job creator in the White House?”
Ohio’s economy has slowly improved over the last four years, something that Ohio politicians have had to tiptoe around while speaking about Romney and Ryan.
“Ohio now leads the nation in job creation,” said Rep. Bill Johnson at the top of the rally. “That does not happen by accident. That happens because of strong leadership right here in the state.”
“The media is trying to give President Obama credit for that. We know that’s not the truth,” he said. “What’s happening is private-sector innovation, private-sector job growth.”
This was a crowd focused on promoting traditional values as well as coal, with crowd members waving “Ohio counts on Coal” signs alongside their Romney/Ryan signs.
State Treasurer Josh Mandel tried to take advantage of this aspect in his speech.
“The coal, oil and gas we have here in Ohio are assets, not liabilities. But unfortunately, Barack Obama has waged a war on coal and our national resources,” he said. “We should be mining for all the coal and drilling, for all the oil and gas we can, to keep our people safe, and our men and women working.”
Washington County went for McCain over Obama in 2008, 57% to 41%.
“I think we’re going to turn the country around,” said Tommy Hager, 52, of Parkersburg, W.Va., 15 miles away. He’s a strong Romney/Ryan supporter because both candidates are “staunchly pro-life,” he said.
But Democrats aren’t giving up on this red region of Ohio, knowing full well that every vote counts in this swing state. Near the Ryan rally, Trudy Mendelhall, 62, was filling her car with gas, ready to go out and knock on doors, reminding people to vote for Obama/Biden in Washington County.
“I don’t think this is time for a change,” she said. “We should be focusing on keeping jobs in the United States.”