Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Presidential Election

October 10, 2012

Race between Romney, Obama still all about Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It's still all about Ohio.

After a strong debate performance, Republican challenger Mitt Romney is intensifying his efforts in the state that's critical to his White House hopes, while President Barack Obama works to hang on to the polling edge he's had here for weeks.

Both candidates campaigned hard in the state Tuesday, the last day of voter registration ahead of Election Day, now just four weeks away.

"It's time for him to leave the White House," Romney said of Obama at an evening rally in Cuyahoga Falls. "Ohio's going to elect me the next president of the United States."

Obama, in Columbus, called out, "All right, Buckeyes, we need you." His campaign had buses nearby, ready to ferry students or other supporters to registration centers.

As Obama wooed Ohio State University students here and Romney focused on the Democratic bastion of Cuyahoga County to the north, there were signs the president's Ohio advantage was narrowing. A new CNN poll showed Obama leading Romney 51 percent to 47 percent among likely Ohio voters. And Republican strategists familiar with Romney's internal polling contended the race was even closer — within a single percentage point — as the candidate enjoyed a post-debate surge of support.

"I promise you he's back in the game in Ohio," said Charlie Black, an informal Romney campaign adviser.

Like other Republicans, he credits Romney's strong debate appearance last week as the reason for an uptick in national polling. And Romney advisers maintain they're seeing evidence of that in the battleground states most likely to decide the election, Ohio among them.

"There isn't any question that he has breathed new life and new energy into the Republican Party," Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. "We're seeing that there is greater intensity among Republicans and a great willingness to get out and vote and participate than we're seeing with Democrats."

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