CINCINNATI — Mitt Romney on Saturday aimed to keep his post-convention momentum going with a campaign stop in the battleground state of Ohio, while President Obama countered with the start of a campaign march through four swing states that he hopes will inject a jolt of energy into his re-election bid ahead of the Democratic National Convention next week in North Carolina.
Flanked by House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Rob Portman, Mr. Romney told the several thousand people gathered to see him that Mr. Obama has dropped the ball when it comes to delivering on the sweeping promises he made during his 2008 presidential campaign – particularly on jobs.
“One of the promises he made was he was going to create more jobs, and today there are 23 million people who are out of work or have stopped looking for work or underemployed,” Mr. Romney said as the college football season got under way. “Let me tell you if you have a coach that’s zero and 23 million, you say it’s time to get a new coach. It’s time for America to see a winning season again, and we are going to bring it to them.”
Mr. Obama, meanwhile, campaigned in Iowa Saturday as he began a five-day trip that he hopes to use as a springboard into the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., where he will be renominated. The president said Mr. Romney’s proposals “are retreads of the same policies that have been sticking it to the middle class for years.”
“He did not offer a single new idea” at the GOP convention, Mr. Obama told about 10,000 cheering supporters at an outdoor farming museum in Urbandale, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines.
The president mocked the Republicans’ convention, which his advisers said he avoided watching.
“It was something to behold,” the president said. “Despite all the challenges we face in this recession, what they offered over those three days was, more often than not, an agenda that was better suited for the last century. You might as well have been watching it on black-and-white TV.”
When the crowd booed the GOP convention, Mr. Obama said, “Don’t boo. Vote.”
He also criticized the Republican nominee for failing to talk about Afghanistan in his acceptance speech.
“Gov. Romney had nothing to say about Afghanistan, let alone offer a plan for the 33,000 troops who will come home” next month, he said.
Mr. Obama urged supporters to watch his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention.
“Thursday night, I will offer a better path,” he said, listing his proposals for education, health care, veterans’ care and other items.
The gap between the Republican and Democratic conventions serves as a preview of the two-month post-Labor Day sprint to Election Day, where both campaigns will be pouring more money into television and more energy into corralling the small herd of undecided voters into their respective camps.
Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was met by an energetic and roaring crowd inside a train station turned museum in Cincinnati. Several thousand more people greeted him and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan at a shopping and dining complex along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Fla. – bringing an end to the biggest week of Mr. Romney’s career, where he became the first Mormon the win the nomination of either party.
Mr. Romney planned to spend the rest of the Labor Day weekend at lakefront home in Wolfboro, N.H. and the Associated Press reported that Kevin Madden, a senior Romney advisor, said the ex-governor would spend three days next week preparing – with the help if Mr. Portman – for the fall debate showdowns with Mr. Obama.
Mr. Ryan, meanwhile, is scheduled to campaign in Greenville, N.C., on Monday – a day before the Democratic convention starts in the state.
On Saturday, Mr. Boehner whipped up the crowd into a frenzy before introducing Mr. Romney, arguing that it is time for “America to stand up and reclaim our country” and the newly minted GOP presidential nominee is the right person to lead the way. “He is a person who will keep his promises,” he said. “You and I will send Barrack Obama packing his bags back to Chicago.”
The Republican nominee also released his second weekly podcast of the campaign, in which he continued to make the case that Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric from four years ago has come crashing down to Earth.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise … is to help you and your family,” Mr. Romney said, repeating a line from his acceptance speech last week in Tampa.
The president’s political trip will include stops in Colorado, Ohio and Virginia. His schedule also includes a planned visit Monday to the Gulf Coast to survey the damage from Hurricane Isaac — three days after Mr. Romney toured a small town that felt the brunt of the storm in Louisiana, teaming up with Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. David Vitter, fellow Republicans.
In Iowa, the president was accompanied by Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, who said wealthy Republican donors such as Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers were trying to buy the election with multi-million-dollar contributions to third-party advocacy groups attacking Mr. Obama.
“They’re not going to buy this election, and they’re not going to buy America,” Mr. Harkin told the crowd.
Mr. Obama’s lead in polls over Mr. Romney in Iowa has narrowed to a statistical tie in recent weeks, and some of the president’s supporters are worried.
“There’s a different vibe than 2008,” said Deena Wells of Des Moines, who works at an insurance company. “People want to hear a plan.”
She said some friends and colleagues have soured on the president.
“We were all on the same page four years ago,” she said. “But things have changed. They say, ‘I haven’t really seen what he’s done.’ “