CELINA, Ohio – As the battle rages for Ohio’s few remaining undecided voters, GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan are emphasizing their promise to bring bipartisanship back to Washington.
Speaking to a crowd of 2,000 in a high school gym here – with another thousand awaiting him outside – Romney said he was “heartened” by the independents and Democrats he has seen join with Republicans to back his candidacy.
“They know what's at stake,” he said. “They know this is a big election about big things; they recognize that we face enormous challenges as a nation and we also have huge opportunities, and they want to us grab a hold of these opportunities and finally confront the challenges.”
If elected, Romney said, “I’ve got to make sure and reach across the aisle… I know there are good Democrats who love America just like we do. I’m going to reach across the aisle to them and work together, put the interests of the people ahead of the politicians.”
The Obama campaign quickly fired back, saying Romney’s claims that he’ll work across the aisle can’t be believed.
“The American people can’t trust a word Mitt Romney says, especially when he claims he’d work across the aisle as president. As governor, he refused to work with Democrats in the legislature. And throughout this campaign, he’s refused to stand up to the most extreme voices in his own party,” said Obama spokesman Danny Kanner.
The hope for Romney’s campaign is that a promise to work across the aisle will help peel away Democrats and independents who handed Obama a win in 2008. A CNN/ORC poll of likely Ohio voters taken from October 23 to 25 showed Obama with a five-point lead among independents, and a four-point lead overall. But other polls show the race remaining extremely close: a poll conducted by Ohio news organizations and released Sunday has 49 percent of voters backing each candidate.
Romney said he had worked with Democrats during his gubernatorial term in Massachusetts, though on the campaign trail he points to success at reducing spending and closing the budget deficit, not the signature achievement of bipartisan cooperation during his tenure – a health care law that Obama later said was a model for the Affordable Care Act.
Romney also said his decision to choose Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, as his running mate was influenced by that fact that Ryan is respected across the aisle on the Hill. Reviving a line from the vice presidential announcement tour in mid-August, Romney reminded the crowd that Ryan worked with Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden to author Medicare reform legislation.
Wyden has called this “nonsense,” saying he merely co-wrote a policy paper with Ryan and later voted against Medicare provisions in Ryan’s budget.