- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2012

For proof of how important Ohio is this fall for both presidential campaigns, look no further than this afternoon, when President Obama hit the stump in Cleveland just a few minutes after Republican rival Mitt Romney ripped the incumbent in Cincinnati.

Mr. Obama said November’s election is a chance for voters to break open the partisan deadlock over the country’s direction.

“What’s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take, and this election is your chance to break that stalemate,” he said.

About 250 miles away, Mr. Romney said the president is “long on words and short on action” when it comes to fixing the economy.

Mr. Romney — citing the economic stimulus bill, Mr. Obama’s health care law and the decision not to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada — said the president’s actions “speak very loud.”

Attempting to reset his campaign after a series of stumbles amid a string of bad economic news, Mr. Obama stuck to a long-established script of casting himself as the champion for the middle class and his GOP rival Mitt Romney as a blast from the failed policies of the past.

At a community college outside Cleveland, Mr. Obama put the onus on the voters to break the “stalemate” between the two different visions for fixing the economy in Washington, rather than making the choice in November about his record in office.

“There is one place where I stand in complete agreement with my opponent: this election is about our economic future,” Mr. Obama said in lengthy remarks at Cuyahoga Community College.

Mr. Obama made light of his recent political misstep at the beginning of his speech.

“Over the next give months, this election will take many twists and many turns, polls will go up, and polls will go down. There will be no shortage of gaffes and controversies that keep both campaigns busy and give the press something to write about. You may have heard I recently made my own unique contribution to that process.”

The crowd of roughly 1,500 at the beginning and at times during the speech chanted “four more years.”

But there were few rousing applause lines and at times the hour-long remarks seemed to ramble and repeat various refrains Mr. Obama has been pushing for months, including his desire to “double down” on investing in clean energy, technology, infrastructure and education as a way to help boost the economy and create more jobs and a brighter future for the next generation.

Just moments earlier, Mr. Romney, campaigning on the other side of the critical swing state, delivered a stinging rebuke of the president’s record on handling the economy as unemployment continues to hover at 8 percent.

“He’s going to be saying today that he wants four more years,” Mr. Romney said. “He may have forgotten he talked about a one-term proposition if he couldn’t get the economy turned around in three years. But we’re going to hold him to his word.”

David Eldridge contributed to this report.