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September 26. 2012 9:28PM

Romney, Ryan attack Obama over economy

VANDALIA, Ohio — With his two campaign jets parked behind him and his running mate standing by, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told about 3,000 people at a rally just north of Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday that President Barack Obama is soft on China and has no economic plan except to raise taxes on small business.

“We cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama,” Romney said during an outdoor rally in the chilly wind on the grounds of Dayton International Airport.

“If this President persists on the road of making it harder and harder for small businesses to grow and thrive he’s going to slowly but surely weaken our economy and turn us into Greece,” Romney said.

The rally came on the same day the Washington Post reported its new poll showing Obama leads Romney in battleground state Ohio by 52 percent to 44 percent. Obama also leads in swing states Virginia and Florida. Nationwide the race remains tight but analysts say states like Ohio and Florida are likely going to decide the race.

With so much at stake in Ohio, the Romney campaign started a bus tour through the state on Monday.

The tour — and Tuesday’s visit to the Dayton area by Romney and vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — was clearly designed to get Romney back on message attacking Obama over the economy.

Romney mocked Obama’s economic stimulus and “cash for clunkers” programs and criticized government funding for green energy companies. He said Obama believes that the government should “pick winners and losers,” tell people how to live their lives and put “bureaucrats” in the middle of health-care decisions.

“This vision of government is clearly foreign to anything this nation has ever known,” Romney said during his 17-minute speech.

Romney also said he would crack down on China, which he said cheats on trade, and he would fight counterfeiting of American products.

Obama campaign spokesman Jason Pitt said Romney is trying to remake himself as a “China trade warrior,” but that Romney’s record doesn’t match his rhetoric.

“In the private sector, he invested in companies that shipped American jobs to China,” said Pitt. “And now we know that, for years, Mitt Romney has invested in Chinese companies and profited off their success. When it comes to China, Mitt Romney isn’t a trade warrior, he’s a paper tiger.”

Ryan and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also spoke at Tuesday’s rally.

“With President Obama the economy is barely growing. He is running out of ideas,” said Ryan, who earlier campaigned in Cincinnati.

While the candidates focused mostly on economic issues, Romney also reached out to members of the military and veterans.

“When I’m president of the United States I will not cut our military budget or our commitment to keep our military’s budget second to none in the world,” Romney said.

Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, also attacked Obama’s commitment to school children because a teachers’ union is a major contributor to his campaign.

“There’s nothing wrong with the teachers’ union but I just think the president of the United States should be focused on the needs of the kids not focused on the needs of the teachers’ union,” he said.

Tom Casey, a retired Army veteran from Beavercreek, Ohio, said he thought Romney hit “the issues that we need to talk about,” specifically pointing to jobs and health-care policies. Like many attendees, he was interested in reducing the national debt.

“Romney gave some good answers on ‘60 Minutes,’ that he would look at every program within the government and he’s going to find out where those programs can be cut,” he said.

Basette Smith of West Chester, Ohio, one of the few black Republicans in the crowd, said he’s been trying to convince people to vote for Romney.

“I am a conservative first and foremost, and his principles best match my conservative principles,” Smith said. With Obama, he said, “It’s all about growing government. It’s all about the state and what the state can do. For me, that reeks of socialism.”

Retiree Cathy Kerns of Piqua, Ohio, who said her Social Security benefits have not kept pace with her rising bills, was glad Romney featured national defense and debt reduction in his speech.

She also made a point of saying Obama’s race, as the nation’s first black president, has nothing to do with her positions.

“It has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the man’s color. I could care less,” Kerns said. “But we knew he was the wrong man for this country and now we firmly believe it even more.”

Ryan, known as a deficit hawk, told the audience the Obama agenda has failed.

“We can’t keep spending money we just don’t have,” he said. “We’ve got to balance this budget. We’ve got to get this debt under control.”

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