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Obama, Romney campaign in Ohio, bring opposing visions for the economy

Courtesy of MCT

With five months left until the presidential election, President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have been competing in Ohio for the 18 electoral votes up for grabs in the swing state.

Obama and his likely opponent campaigned 250 miles apart Thursday – Obama in Cleveland and Romney in Cincinnati – with speeches that many have said were more about attacking the other candidate than offering new policy plans.

The candidates’ campaign trails have in the past brought them even closer to the Columbus area. Obama kicked off his presidential campaign with a rally at OSU on May 5, and Romney spoke at Otterbein College on April 26. Obama’s campaign office in the South Campus Gateway opened at the end of May, while Romney’s campaign office on Dublin Road opened June 9.

A Gallup poll released Saturday showed that Obama and Romney are locked in a tie. The poll showed that Romney leads Obama 47 percent to 45 percent among registered voters. A CNN poll released the same day showed Obama as the frontrunner, with a 52 percent to 43 percent advantage over Romney.

With the campaign in what some are calling a dead heat, the candidates stopped in Ohio Thursday where the economy was the hot-button topic.

Obama said Romney’s solution to fixing the economy is to lower regulations and cut taxes for job creators, while making up the $5 trillion deficit created by the tax cuts with cuts to education programs and research grants.

Romney plans to keep George W. Bush’s tax cuts in place in what Obama said is a plan that hasn’t worked in the past.

“Their policies did not grow the economy. They did not reduce our debt. Why would 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.

Josh Ahart, vice president of Ohio State College Democrats, said in an email that he thinks people should acknowledge that the economy under Obama is growing.

“Six months after the president took office, the country started to add jobs again. Coming out of this recession will be tough but going back to the same old ways that got us into this mess will not fix this broken economy,” Ahart said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country has 552,000 fewer jobs than when Obama first took office in January 2009. The total national debt has risen to $15.8 trillion, which marks a 50 percent increase from the $10.6 trillion in national debt when Obama first took office.

Drew Stroemple, president of OSU College Republicans, said that rather than focus on his own accomplishments in office, Obama devoted the majority of the more than 50-minute speech Thursday to attacking Romney due to the weak economy.

“As president he needs to be defending his record, and he needs to be going out there and showing why he deserves a second term if he thinks he does. But he’s not doing that. He’s spending all his time talking about Romney,” Stroemple said. “(Obama) really never gave a serious policy proposal as far as to what he was going to do differently.”

Obama said his vision for fixing the economy is to pay down the deficit through shared sacrifice and responsibility. He also spoke of investments in education training, clean energy and research.

But Obama is “trying to have it both ways” Stroemple said, by promising a balanced budget without making any program cuts and by making more investments.

“You don’t close record-setting deficits without making some tough cuts. If President Obama is sitting here trying to tell us he’s not going to make any tough cuts, then he’s lying if he’s saying he’s going to balance the budget,” Stroemple said.

Romney said Obama will eloquently provide excuses and ideas for how to fix the economy but that “what he says and what he does are not always the same thing.” Obama’s inability to turn around the economy in the three years promised, Romney said, will lead to a one-term election.

“If you want to see the results of his economic policies, look around Ohio, look around the country, and you’ll see that a lot of people are hurting,” Romney said. “The policies the president put in place did not make America create more jobs.”

The negativity of the dueling speeches Thursday was not lost on at least one listener, Hannah Tyler, a first-year graduate student in public policy. She said politicians resort to negative speeches and ad campaigns because many people aren’t informed on the issues. For this reason, she said negativity in politics is usually effective.

“If you are informed on the issues, it’s disgusting the nonsense they resort to,” Tyler said. “But if you’re not particularly informed, you’re going to be more swayed by your emotional response, versus a critical look at the issue.”

Tyler said speeches are rarely helpful in informing people of the real issues.

“These speeches are about pandering to supporters, of picking out a group essential to the election and speaking directly to that group,” Tyler said


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