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With a significant financial advantage over Fisher, Portman exuded confidence as he toured a small business recently in southern Ohio and focused on voter angst.

“People are frustrated because they don’t see Columbus and Washington solving their problems,” he says. Neither capital, he adds, seems to be focused on job growth. He bats away Democratic efforts to link him to Bush, saying: “I’m not asking voters to look back. I’m looking forward.”

To the Democrats’ chagrin, Ohioans — and Americans in general — may be, too.