Prominent Midwestern politicans on Sunday previewed the economic arguments their parties will be making this fall in swing state Ohio, offering a taste of what will be a fierce battle for one of several must-win states.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio faced off on NBC's Meet the Press over the recession-wracked Midwest, which has suffered a high rate of manufacturing job losses.
Durbin indicated that the auto bailout, which President Bush initiated, President Obama expanded and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney famously derided, will be a centerpiece of Obama's campaign in Ohio, where the auto industry provides a large number of jobs.
"The good news for Ohio and Illinois is that more manufcturing jobs are coming online...It really gets back to this presidential campaign, because President Obama said, 'We're going to stand by the automobile industry," Durbin said.
But Kasich argued that it was his leadership in the state, not anything Obama did, that improved Ohio's jobs outlook. "The credit goes to the people that invest. All we've done in Ohio is to create a better environment" for job creation, Kasich said, adding that through deregulation, Ohio lawmakers "created an environment, or an atmosphere, for job growth."
Kasich endorsed overall GOP policies, such as reduced regulation and taxes, but refrained from endorsing Romney's stated policies outright. He is also made it clear, in comments that echo the lukewarm enthusiasm expressed by other prominent Republicans, that Romney was not his first choice of nominee. "Everyone I either endorsed or was for either dropped out or didn't run," Kasich said.
Still, Kasich said the GOP can win back the White House with Romney at the top of the ticket."The party will get its act together. It will be very competitive in the fall," he said.